BERLIN — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange blasted the Guardian on Tuesday, saying the British newspaper's "negligence" in publishing an encryption key to uncensored files forced his organization's hand in publishing the secret U.S. diplomatic memos.
It was Assange's first public comments since WikiLeaks disclosed its entire archive of U.S. State Department cables last week. The United States has fiercely criticized the move, saying it could endanger the lives of the sources named in the cables, including opposition figures or human rights advocates.
Guardian spokeswoman Hayley Dunlop said the newspaper had no further comment beyond last week's statement. That joint statement by the Guardian and four other publications deplored "the decision of WikiLeaks to publish the unredacted State Department cables, which may put sources at risk."
Speaking via a video link, Assange told an audience at a Berlin technology trade fair that a Guardian journalist had published the password to the encrypted files in his book, creating a situation where some people got access to the uncensored files while others did not.
"We had a case where every intelligence agency has the material and the people who are mentioned do not have the material," he said from a mansion about two hours' drive from London, where he is under virtual house arrest pending extradition proceedings to Sweden on unrelated sexual assault allegations.
"So you have a race between the bad guys and the good guys and it was necessary for us to stand on the side of the good guys," he said.
WikiLeaks on Friday posted the 251,287 cables on its website, making potentially sensitive diplomatic sources available to anyone.