US relocates people following WikiLeaks releases

Friday, January 7, 2011

WASHINGTON - The US has relocated a “handful” of individuals who could have been exposed to retribution or other dangers because of the WikiLeaks release of secret diplomatic cables, the State Department said Friday.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley would not say how many people have been moved to safer locations with US assistance, or in which countries this help has taken place.

WikiLeaks in November began publishing hundreds of thousands of leaked State Department cables. Some of the cables revealed the names of individuals who have conversed with US diplomats, including human rights activists, journalists, and in some cases government officials.

The US has been worried that those individuals could be subjected to abuse by repressive governments in various countries.

“We are focused on people who have been identified in documents and assess whether there’s a greater risk to them of violence, imprisonment or other serious harm, particularly in repressive societies around the world,” Crowley said.

A State Department team has been pouring through the cables since WikiLeaks starting publishing the document to determine who could be endangered. Several hundred people have been deemed potentially being at risk, Crowley said.

“We have made it clear to governments that any adverse actions against individuals identified by WikiLeaks will affect future relations with those governments,” Crowley said.

The US government has sharply criticized WikiLeaks for publishing illegally obtained classified material and is considering whether to take criminal action against the website or its founder, Julian Assange.

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