American officials are searching for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks in an attempt to pressure him not to publish thousands of confidential and potentially hugely embarrassing diplomatic cables that offer unfiltered assessments of Middle East governments and leaders.
The Daily Beast, a US news reporting and opinion website, reported that Pentagon investigators are trying to track down Julian Assange – an Australian citizen who moves frequently between countries – after the arrest of a US soldier last week who is alleged to have given the whistleblower website a classified video of American troops killing civilians in Baghdad.
The soldier, Bradley Manning, also claimed to have given WikiLeaks 260,000 pages of confidential diplomatic cables and intelligence assessments.
The US authorities fear their release could "do serious damage to national security", said the Daily Beast, which is published by Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair and New Yorker magazines.
If you haven't seen The New Yorker's fascinating profile of Assange yet, here it is.
Manning became disenchanted with the military after they ignored evidence that a group of imprisoned Iraqis were good government activists exposing corruption not terrorists. Wikileaks denies that he gave them the diplomatic cables that the US government is panicking about but that hasn't allayed their fear.
'Unfiltered assessments of Middle East governments and leaders' sounds absolutely fascinating and possibly a game changer for perceptions of America's cynical realpolitik approach to dictators, thugs, torturers and assorted despots.