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Will WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, now arrested, take the 'nuclear' option?

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange has threatened to release 'key parts' of secret US documents if anything happened to him or WikiLeaks.

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"Cable Gate" is the title of WikiLeaks' largest leak yet, though fewer than 1,000 of the more than 251,000 cables have been released to the public since the leak began on Nov. 28.

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The latest release of cables has brought increased pressure on Assange from the US and Swedish governments, culminating this morning with his arrest at a London police station on accusations of rape, unlawful coercion, and sexual molestation in Sweden.

Will WikiLeaks now release the key to open the insurance file? Not yet. The Associated Press reports that a WikiLeaks spokesman said the file will be "used only if 'grave matters' take place involving WikiLeaks staff."

An unbreakable code

Could someone crack the encryption code and review or even publish the file on their own? Unlikely. Nigel Smart, professor of cryptology at Bristol University, told The Sunday Times that even powerful military computers would be unable to crack the encryption. “This isn’t something that can be broken with a modern computer. You need the key to open it,” he said.

The US Department of Defense is reportedly aware of the "insurance" file but has been unable to establish its contents. If anyone can crack the code, it would be the US National Security Agency, according to James Bamford, who has written two books on the NSA.

"This is the kind of thing that they are geared for, since this is the type of thing a terrorist organization might have – a website that has damaging information on it,” Mr. Bamford told the Associated Press in August soon after the insurance file appeared. “They would want to break into it, see what's there and then try to destroy it."

But secret-code expert Bruce Schneier, author of the blog "Schneier on Security," has suggested that it could be no more than a bluff from Assange.

"It's either 1.4 Gig of embarrassing secret documents, or 1.4 Gig of random data bluffing. There's no way to know."

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