Tension has been building around the world ahead of a massive leak of a reported 250,000 diplomatic cables by whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks later Sunday, with media sources around the world estimating the content and potential gravity of the classified information.
A first glimpse of the soon-to-be-published material was gleaned as the scanned version of the front cover of the German daily Der Spiegel – one of three major newspapers around the world, along with the New York Times and the Guardian, set to release the material – leaked online ahead of schedule.
The cover, originating from advance copies accidently released in Basel, Switzerland, depict the images of world leaders along with captions which may hint at the potentially embarrassing information disclosed in the confidential communiqués.
A quote placed by the picture of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for example, nicknamed the Iranian leader "Hitler," while French President Nikola Sarkozy is called “an emperor without clothes.” Afghani President Hamid Karzai, on the other hand, was a "weak personality" who was "driven by paranoia" and "conspiracy theories.
The accounts of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were suspicious of him, while remarks about Kenya's leadership were contemptuous.
One exchange indicated the State Department in Washington asked the U.S. embassy in Rome to check rumours that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had had private property dealings with Putin. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was termed "pale, hesitant."
In an assessment of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a diplomat marked her: "Avoids risk, not very creative."
Spiegel said 90 per cent of the material involved the period from 2005 onwards. Only 6 per cent was labeled "secret."
According to tweets from the French based blog, OWNI, the Der Spiegel report includes such observations from the WikiLeaks report as "Obama prefers to look East than West,” and “The U.S. sees the world as a confrontation between 2 superpowers. The EU plays a secondary role."
In a testament to the tense atmosphere preceding the report's release, Italy's foreign minister said that the report will be "the September 11th of world diplomacy."
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, on a trip to Qatar, said he did not know the content of the files to be released but warned they would "blow up the relationship of trust between states", according to Italian news agencies.
Another possible indication of the contents of the massive WikiLeaks exposé came Friday, as Turkish newspaper Hurriyet quoted Turkish Foreign Ministry officials as denying allegations potential originating from the yet-to-be-released material alleging that Turkey supported Al-Qaida cells in Iraq.
The rejection came in the wake of an Al Hayat report a day earlier, which claimed that information held by WikiLeaks and which is set for release later Sunday hints at a link between Akara and the international terror group.
"Turkey has never given support to any terrorist organization. Fighting against terror is our priority and we don’t make differentiations between terrorist organizations. Turkey has launched many operations against al-Qaeda,” an official told the Hurriyet.
Asked about the allegations that the U.S. helped the outlawed PKK, the same official said, “Turkey and the U.S. are carrying out an efficient cooperation in the fight against the PKK.”
“We will evaluate the issue when the documents are released and contact U.S. officials about the issue if needed,” another diplomatic source was quoted as saying.
The Hurriyet also quoted Deborah Guido, spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Ankara, as saying that U.S. government’s policy “has never been nor will ever be in support of the PKK. Anything that implies otherwise is nonsense."
Relating to the possibility that material concerning Israel could also be released on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed reports that Israel and the United States may be embarrassed by the WikiLeaks report, saying that "Israel is not the center of international attention."
The premier added that Jerusalem had not "been updated by the Americans about specific sensitive materials to be disclosed regarding Israel."
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