UN chief says WikiLeaks makes diplomacy difficult

UNITED NATIONS - December 17, 2010

"It's unfortunate that these confidential documents have been leaked," the U.N. chief said.

It was Ban's first press conference since WikiLeaks began releasing more than 250,000 leaked United States embassy cables late last month including a July 2009 document published in The Guardian newspaper in Britain on Nov. 29 instructing U.S. officials to gather intelligence about him and other top U.N. officials and diplomats.

The document, signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, sought technical details on communication systems, biometric information, and credit card and frequent flyer numbers. The document shocked many at the United Nations because it went beyond what is considered normal information-gathering in diplomatic circles.

"I'm quite transparent, but there needs to be a decent and reasonable way of respecting the privacy and confidential way of conducting business as secretary-general or any other senior positions," Ban said. "I think there needs to be a balance ... between freedom of expression, right to know as well as to preserve the necessary and confidential conduct of diplomacy."

"Whatever the motivations of this leakage might be on the part of the leakers, this will make (it) very difficult for the normal and reasonable conduct of business, particularly in the diplomatic world," Ban said.

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