White House condemns latest WikiLeaks release

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs answers questions during the press briefing at the White House in Washington, September 30, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House condemned on Sunday WikiLeaks’ “reckless and dangerous action” in releasing classified U.S. diplomatic cables, saying it could endanger lives and risk hurting relations with friendly countries.

U.S. State Department documents released by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks provided candid views of foreign leaders and sensitive information on terrorism and nuclear proliferation, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

The documents show Saudi donors remain chief financiers of militant groups like al Qaeda and that Chinese government operatives have waged a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage targeting the United States and its allies, according to a review of the WikiLeaks documents published in the Times.

“These cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only U.S. foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

By their nature, the cables often contained incomplete information and were not an expression of policy, he said.

“Such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government,” Gibbs said.

He said the cables may include the names of pro-democracy activists living “under oppressive regimes.”

“By releasing stolen and classified documents, WikiLeaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals,” he said.

Reporting by Ross Colvin; Editing by Doina Chiacu