WikiLeaks: Top 5 revelations

The newest release of confidential state information from WikiLeaks includes 251,287 cables from more than 250 US embassies. Here are five of the most striking revelations.

US diplomats ordered to spy on UN

In July 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a classified directive for officials to obtain detailed information on United Nations officials and diplomats, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Guardian says the directive "appears to blur the line between diplomacy and spying." It asks for credit card numbers, e-mail addresses, phone, fax, and pager numbers, even frequent-flyer account numbers, and a host of other details on electronic passwords and communications. A primary motive appears to be obtaining information on the plans and policies of European allies, including Britain, France, and Germany vis-à-vis Iran, according to Der Spiegel.

Here is a full copy of the July 2009 order, courtesy of the Guardian.

The British newspaper – one of five publications given advance access to the WikiLeaks files – says "the directive is likely to spark questions about the legality of the operation and about whether state department diplomats are expected to spy."

The directive possibly violates the 1946 UN convention on privileges and immunities. But State Department spokesman Philip Crowley denied that US diplomats have assumed a new role, reports The New York Times. “Our diplomats are just that, diplomats,” he said.

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