Telegraph Guantanamo

The Telegraph's Guantánamo database, which was published with 'minimal redaction'

The Daily Telegraph has published 759 of the leaked Guantánamo files it obtained from WikiLeaks, despite the files not having been redacted to remove sensitive information.

One of the documents published by the Telegraph today includes the full name of a boy detained at Guantánamo who, according to the file, was raped at the age of 15, just prior to being transferred to the camp.

The publication of his name appears to breach the Press Complaints Commission Editors' Code of Conduct, which states that "the press must not, even if legally free to do so, identify children under 16 who are victims or witnesses in cases involving sex offences".

The PCC said today that it could not comment on individual cases before a complaint was made, but it "would of course consider any complaint".

No charges were brought against the detainee, who was captured by US forces in Afghanistan and transferred to Guantánamo Bay "because of his possible knowledge of Taliban resistance efforts and local leaders". He was released a little more than a year after being transferred to the camp.

The file has also been published by WikiLeaks and the Guardian but the Guardian has blacked out the text relating to the alleged assault.

In a statement sent to Journalism.co.uk this afternoon, the Telegraph defended the move, saying it had undertaken "minimal redactions" and that its position was "supported by WikiLeaks".

"The Daily Telegraph takes its responsibilities when releasing confidential documents very seriously, but we believe this information is crucial for full public understanding of Guantánamo Bay. The newspaper has a long track record of redacting documents when necessary, including the release of hundreds of files relating to MPs expenses and the US diplomatic cables.

"However, in this instance, after taking detailed expert advice on the information already in the public domain and the importance of the documents to the general public and the detainees, we have decided to make only minimal redactions. This position has been supported by WikiLeaks.

"We have detailed security protocols in place for the handling of sensitive data by Telegraph employees. We have been alarmed at the reports of the apparent cavalier handling of data by former partners of WikiLeaks, which led to their relationships with the organisation breaking down."

Concerns have also been raised today that a number of the files published by the Telegraph contain unverified accusations against current and former detainees. Speaking to Journalism.co.uk earlier today, Guardian investigations editor David Leigh said that the Telegraph's publication was "totally scandalous ... the most irresponsible thing that I can imagine".

"We took out the names of people who because of the British libel law we couldn't just publish unverified accusations against. We did a lot of redacting and the New York Times did a lot of redacting, but unfortunately WikiLeaks hasn't, and the Daily Telegraph has just published the lot."

The director of Reprieve, a human rights group set up to help the detainees of the Guantanamo Bay camp, wrote to the Telegraph following their initial coverage of the files, accusing it of "extraordinarily inaccurate journalism".

Clive Stafford-Smith's letter, which was not published by the newspaper but was sent to Journalism.co.uk by Reprieve, says:

"The Daily Telegraph line about the Guantánamo WikiLeaks is extraordinarily inaccurate journalism: 'At least 35 Guantánamo Bay inmates fought against the West after being indoctrinated in Britain, leaked files disclose'.
 
"You write that nine of these are British nationals and eight are British residents. I have helped to represent most of these men, and there is no credible evidence – zero – that any fought against the West."

Stafford-Smith has also criticised the Guardian for its coverage, claiming in an article published by the newspaper that it took "a very credulous approach to the WikiLeaks exposé".

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