Norwegian daily Aftenposten says it has infuriated WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by leaking the same documents as WikiLeaks but at a different pace and in a different order, according to an AFP report.
It is not clear how Aftenposten has gotten its hands on the diplomatic document trove that WikiLeaks has in its possession. But since last December, it has been leaking the secrets independent of the script for gradual release of the documents that Assange agreed upon with five of the world's leading newspapers.
"Only three staff members know how Aftenposten got the documents — thought exclusive to WikiLeaks — and won’t let on," said AFP, which quoted the paper's news editor Ole Erik Almlid as saying: “This took quite a lot of work. Let’s just say that we didn’t get it through an e-mail that went astray. But we did not pay for it, no conditions have been attached and we can publish exactly what we want following our regular strict editorial criteria.”
When asked about the competing leaks from the Norwegian newspaper, Assange denied that there was a problem. The paper is “a media partner” of WikiLeaks, he told Norwegian financial daily Dagens Naeringsliv in early January.
Aftenposten categorically denies this. “According to our information, Julian Assange is, to put it mildly, not very pleased that Aftenposten, too, has obtained the 251,287 US diplomatic cables from a source,” Hilde Haugsgjerd, the paper’s chief editor, wrote on January 4.
Under Assange’s plan, WikiLeaks made a deal with five major publications — The New York Times, Le Monde, El Pais, The Guardian and Der Spiegel — to read and gradually publish the diplomatic cables. Aftenposten, meanwhile, has created its own newspaper network, cooperating with Die Welt in Germany, Svenska Dagbladet in Sweden and Politiken in Denmark.
One of the news items reported by Aftenposten based on its own leaked stash was that Israel "deliberately choked Gaza’s economy."
Meanwhile, the British Telegraph newspaper quoted a WikiLeaks document with the minutes of a top-level 2008 US security briefing. The briefing warned that development of cruise and ballistic missiles in the Middle East and Asia could enable Syria and other rogue states to fire weapons of mass destruction into neighboring countries.