New York Times New York Times offices, New York. Photo: Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr. Some rights reserved
Despite reports that the New York Times was once again a print partner of the latest WikiLeaks release - along with the Guardian, Der Spiegel, El Pais and Le Monde - it is now clear that the Times did not obtain its copy of the embassy cables directly from the whistleblower.

An editor's note published by the Times yesterday states that the secret cables "were made available to the Times by a source who insisted on anonymity".

According to the Yahoo News blog the Cutline, which spoke to Guardian investigations editor David Leigh, the Times received the material from the Guardian, agreeing to abide by the embargo date set for the four other publications. Leigh told the Cutline that "we got the cables from WL [WikiLeaks] and we gave a copy to the NYT". The Cutline reports that this arrangement was confirmed in an email from New York Times executive editor Bill Keller on earlier today.

The Times partnered WikiLeaks on both the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs earlier this year, and its staff were part of a team with the Guardian and Der Spiegel that spent months analysing the data prior to WikiLeaks' first large-scale military data release, the Afghanistan war logs.

It isn't certain what prompted WikiLeaks to cut the Times out of the loop this time around, but the newspaper's coverage of the organisation and its founder and editor-in-chief has been at times fiercely critical.

Shortly after the release of the Afghanistan war logs reports revealed that WikiLeaks' publication - which was largely unredacted, unlike releases by its newspaper partners - named informants on the ground in Aghanistan and put their lives at risk in doing so.

New York Times executive editor Bill Keller distanced the paper from WikiLeaks in a subsequent Q&A session with readers: "First, the Times has no control over WikiLeaks - where it gets its material, what it releases and in what form. To say that it is an independent organisation is a monumental understatement. The decision to post this secret military archive on a website accessible to the public was WikiLeaks’, not ours."

Talking with the Columbia Journalism review in July, Times' reporter Eric Schmitt delivered another swipe, this time at Assange himself:

"I've seen Julian Assange in the last couple of days kind of flouncing around talking about this collaboration like the four of us were working all this together,” says Schmitt. ”But we were not in any kind of partnership or collaboration with him. This was a source relationship. He’s making it sound like this was some sort of journalistic enterprise between WikiLeaks, the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel, and that’s not what it was."

In October there was a particularly unflattering profile piece in the Times entitled "WikiLeaks founder on the run, trailed by notoriety". Assange returned fire on the newspaper in an interview with Democracy Now, accusing it of being "unprofessional" for "writing defensively" and "ridiculous" for refusing to link to the WikiLeaks site.

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