WikiLeaks Backup Plan Could Drop Diplomatic Bomb

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has a backup plan should anything happen to him or his notorious document-dumping website.

CBSNews.com Special Report: WikiLeaks

The legal net is tightening around Assange. On Thursday, Sweden's highest court turned down an appeal from his legal team, which means an international warrant for his arrest in a sexual assault case is valid, CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports.

(Scroll down to watch a video of this report)

Supporters of WikiLeaks around the world are downloading a file the site calls an insurance policy. The files are encrypted with a code so strong it's unbreakable, even by governments.

If anything happens to Assange or the website, a key will go out to unlock the files. There would then be no way to stop the information from spreading like wildfire because so many people already have copies.

"What most folks are speculating is that the insurance file contains unreleased information that would be especially embarrassing to the U.S. government if it were released," said Declan McCullagh, chief political correspondent for CNET, a CBS company.

In other words, the Interpol arrest warrant may eventually stop Assange but not the spread of even more Wiki-secrets.

British police, who would carry out the arrests, said they haven't yet because the warrant wasn't correctly filed.

Assange is one of the most reviled or -- depending on a person's point of view -- revered men on Earth. He's in hiding somewhere in or around London and, CBS News has been told, working hard to keep his site up and running.

"He has obviously read, like everybody else, about the allegations that are in the media," said Assange lawyer Mark Stephens. "He's read about Interpol notices. He's read about warrants, but nobody's actually been in touch with him or any of his legal team."

WikiLeaks has come under multiple cyber-attacks from hackers in the past few days and on Wednesday was refused access to its U.S. computer servers run by Amazon.com.

"So it was left trying to deal with a really large and complex attack with not many servers," WikiLeaks employee James Ball said.

But Assange and his team stayed one step ahead, moving to European servers.

The website leaked even more sensitive documents Thursday. They include some eye-opening diplomatic cables in which U.S. officials complain of overwhelming corruption in Afghanistan. The diplomats claim nearly every Afghan government official is skimming money from American-funded projects.

More on WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks: CIA Asked State Dept. for U.N. Info
Cables: U.S. Warned of Bribery in Bout Case
WikiWhere? Assange in Hiding as Warrant Looms
Who is Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange?
WikiLeaks' Assange Being Persecuted, Lawyer Says
WikiLeaks' Assange On Wanted List
WikiLeaks: Putin Likely Knew of Spy Murder Plot
Next WikiLeak Could Turn Assange into Robin Hood
After WikiLeaks, Whistle-Blower Bill Gains Steam
Wikileaks: "Hyperactive" Sarkozy Employs Yes Men
Clinton: WikiLeaks Won't Hurt U.S. Diplomacy
Wikileaks Blocked Behind Chinese Firewall

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."

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