February 25, 2015 / 5:37 PM / 4 years ago

South Africa's security minister: spy data leak endangers national security

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s security minister on Wednesday launched an investigation into the mass leaking of espionage secrets to the media this week, saying the breach would undermine diplomatic relations and national security.

The cables reveal that South Africa, a prominent ‘non-aligned’ state reluctant to take sides in international disputes, was coerced by Washington into spying on Iran, with which it enjoys firm diplomatic and commercial ties.

Minister David Mahlobo condemned the leaks.

“Any leakages of classified information undermine the national security of any state,” Mahlobo said in a statement.

Britain’s Guardian paper and Gulf TV channel Al Jazeera said they had obtained hundreds of dossiers, files and cables from the world’s top spy agencies to and from South Africa.

The spy cables have said raised doubts about South Africa’s ability to walk a diplomatic tightrope between the East and the West, experts have said.

“A full investigation has been launched into the purported leakage, its veracity and verification will be handled in terms of the protocols governing the management of classified information,” the statement said.

Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Angus MacSwan

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