The Obama administration on Wednesday warned that the next release of documents from whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks could damage relations between the US and foreign governments. Now, a report from Reuters offers an explanation as to why that may be.
According to "sources familiar with the State Department cables held by WikiLeaks," the imminent document dump will include reports from US diplomats on corruption within foreign governments and among world leaders.
Reuters reports that governments in Europe and Asia feature prominently in the document release, with Russia and Afghanistan being mentioned by name. However, there were no specifics reported as to the nature of the corruption allegations or which governments are involved.
Three sources familiar with the State Department cables held by WikiLeaks say the corruption allegations in them are major enough to cause serious embarrassment for foreign governments and politicians named in them.
They said the release was expected next week, but could come earlier. The U.S. government has strongly objected to past WikiLeaks revelations, which it said compromise national security and can put some people at risk.
The US government, for its part, seems to be aware of the general nature of the material WikiLeaks will be releasing. AP reported Wednesday:
The Obama administration said Wednesday it has alerted Congress and begun notifying foreign governments that the WikiLeaks website is preparing to release sensitive U.S. diplomatic files that could damage U.S. relations with friends and allies across the globe.
"These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. "They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world."
Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange last week, several months after the country launched, then dropped, then launched again an investigation into claims by two women that Assange sexually assaulted them.
Assange has maintained his innocence, and says all contact between him and the two women was consensual. He says the allegations are a ruse to discredit WikiLeaks, speculating that the Pentagon may have motivated the rape claims.