Whistleblower website Wikileaks, in conjunction with its media partners The Guardian, the New York Times, Spain's El Pais, France's Le Monde, and Germany's Speigel, has started releasing nearly quarter of a million secret US diplomatic cables this evening.
The site itself is not currently accessible, which it claimed via Twitter was because "[w]e are currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack", although the various newspaper websites have published a selection of the leaked communications. The cables themselves are thought to have come from a source with access to Siprnet, the US Secret IP Router Network, which provides a secure intranet for the American diplomatic service and the security agencies.
A number of the leaked cables deal with computer-related subjects, including a 2009 request from Hillary Clinton to diplomatic staff to amass intelligence on senior United Nation figures, including the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. The cable asked for "current technical specifications, physical layout and planned upgrades to telecommunications infrastructure and information systems, networks and technologies used by top officials and their support staff" with specific requests on data "to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys and virtual private network versions used".
According to The Guardian, PJ Crowley, the state department spokesman in Washington, said: "Let me assure you: our diplomats are just that, diplomats. They do not engage in intelligence activities," while the acting deputy spokesman for Ban Ki-moon, Farhan Haq, said the UN chief had no immediate comment: "We are aware of the reports."