The founder of WikiLeaks, the organization that has published tens of thousands of confidential American diplomatic cables, says U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton should resign if she ordered diplomats to spy.
"She should resign if it can be shown that she was responsible for ordering U.S. diplomatic figures to engage in espionage in the United Nations, in violation of the international covenants to which the U.S. has signed up," Julian Assange told Time Magazine in an interview.
Confidential diplomatic cables released by the whistleblowing website over the last few days indicated that American diplomats have been asked to gather information that is typically the work of spies.
According to one of the documents, Clinton asked for U.N. personnel's telephones, emails, credit card details and frequent flier numbers.
"Biographic and biometric information on U.N. Security Council permanent representatives," China, Russia, France and Britain were also called for, according to the documents.
Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under President George W. Bush, reportedly made similar requests.
"I'm not entirely sure why we care about the opinion of one guy with one website,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. "Our foreign policy and the interests of this country are far stronger than his one website."
Meanwhile, Clinton said Wednesday that the document leak would not hurt American diplomacy.
Speaking at a security summit in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, Clinton said she had discussed the revelations published on the website with her colleagues at the meeting. The event is the first major international gathering of leaders and top diplomats since the memos began appearing on the website and in international publications this week.
"I have certainly raised the issue of the leaks in order to assure our colleagues that it will not in any way interfere with American diplomacy or our commitment to continuing important work that is ongoing," Clinton said. "I have not had any concerns expressed about whether any nation will not continue to work with and discuss matters of importance to us both going forward."