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Highlights of what the most recent WikiLeaks documents claim, and who's involved

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ZIMBABWE: The illicit diamond trade in Zimbabwe has led to the murder of thousands, enriched those close to President Robert Mugabe and been financed in part by the central bank, according to leaked U.S. documents. “In a country filled with corrupt schemes, the diamond business in Zimbabwe is one of the dirtiest,” according to a classified document from November, 2008, from the U.S. embassy in the country, released this week on WikiLeaks. In the classified documents that date from before a unity government came to power, U.S. diplomats cite a well established British mining executive as saying those close to Mr. Mugabe, including his wife, Grace Mugabe, “have been extracting tremendous profits“ from the Chiadzwa mine in the eastern part of the country.

Nasser Nasser/Nasser Nasser/The Associated Press

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ERITREA: Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is a “recluse” who makes decisions in isolation and whose regime is a single bullet away from imploding, according to an Ethiopian security official cited by leaked U.S. cables. In a meeting last year with former U.S. envoy to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto, the head of the Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service, Getachew Assefa, detailed conversations with one of Mr. Afwerki’s bodyguards who defected to Ethiopia. “The bodyguard remarked that Isaias was a recluse who spent his days painting and tinkering with gadgets and carpentry works,” Mr. Assefa said. “Isaias appeared to make decisions with no discussion with his advisors. It was difficult to tell how Isaias would react every day and his moods changed constantly.”

STR/Jack Kimball/Reuters

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COLOMBIA: Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe sought secret talks during his second term with Colombia’s main leftist rebel group in Sweden, and the guerrillas even reached out to the U.S. embassy, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables. But it appears none of the described contacts made headway toward resolving Colombia's nearly half century-old civil conflict, which claims several thousand lives annually. Mr. Uribe left office in August, 2010, after badly crippling the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, with a withering military campaign and refused steadfastly to accept their demand for a demilitarized zone as a condition for talks.

Graham Hughes/Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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SOUTH AFRICA: The rise of Jacob Zuma to South Africa’s presidency was an “astonishing” achievement, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables. Mr. Zuma became South African president in May, 2009, after a bruising battle for the leadership of the African National Congress with former president Thabo Mbeki, who was forced by the ruling party to step down in late 2008. “Zuma’s rise to the pinnacle of South African politics at the same time that serious questions about his character were headline news is an astonishing political achievement in itself,” said a diplomatic cable written before Mr. Zuma was sworn in as president. Mr. Zuma was the subject of a long corruption investigation. Graft charges against him were dropped in April, 2009.

POOL/Hoang Dinh Nam/Reuters

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NIGERIA: Royal Dutch Shell had infiltrated key Nigerian ministries, giving it access to politicians’ every move in the oil-rich nation, the Guardian said, citing leaked U.S. diplomatic cables. The oil giant’s top executive in Nigeria, Ann Pickard, told U.S. diplomats in Abuja in October, 2009, that Shell had obtained secret information, including a letter showing Nigeria had invited bids for oil concessions from China. “She said the GON (government of Nigeria) had forgotten that Shell had seconded people to all the relevant ministries and that Shell consequently had access to everything that was being done in those ministries,” U.S. Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders was quoted as saying. In reaction to the leaked note, Shell said it is “absolutely untrue” that it has infiltrated every Nigerian ministry affecting its operations.

GEORGE ESIRI/George Esiri/Reuters

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MYANMAR: Myanmar established its own professional football league last year at the behest of ruling General Than Shwe after his grandson suggested he buy England’s Manchester United, according to a leaked cable. Several Myanmar businessmen speculated that the ruling junta wanted to establish the Myanmar National Football League to distract people from the country’s political and economic problems, said the cable from the embassy in Rangoon. The June, 2009, cable said local tycoons were pressured into funding the venture, but were also given incentives such as construction contracts, new gem mines and import permits.

SUKREE SUKPLANG/Sukree Sukplang/Reuters

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POLAND: When Poland learned in 2008 that the U.S. would not be giving it operational Patriot missiles to bolster its defences, one minister dismissed what his nation would be getting instead as “potted plants,” according to a diplomatic cable. Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister, recently responded by saying that the American negotiating tactics described in the cable left Poland “stripped of all illusions” about the way the United States deals with even its closest allies. The document refers to U.S.-Polish talks ahead of the establishment of a military base in Poland in May where U.S. soldiers are now training the Polish military to use Patriot missiles – but without the real weapons.

KACPER PEMPEL/Kacper Pempel/Reuters

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SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Arabia proposed deploying an Arab military force backed by U.S. and NATO airpower to Lebanon two years ago to crush Hezbollah and prevent the militant group – and its patron Iran – from taking power in Beirut, leaked U.S. government documents show. The proposal – made by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal during talks with U.S. diplomat David Satterfield in May, 2008 – was never acted on, but it reflects concerns in Riyadh and other Sunni Arab capitals about the growing influence of Shiite Iran in the region. In the meeting, Saud said that a “security response” was needed to Hezbollah’s challenge to the Lebanese government of then-Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, warning that a Hezbollah “victory in Beirut would mean the end of the Siniora government and the ‘Iranian takeover’ of Lebanon,” according to a cable.

KHALED DESOUKI/Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

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LIBYA: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi threatened to cut trade with Britain and warned of “enormous repercussions” if the Lockerbie bomber died in jail, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported, citing leaked U.S. diplomatic cables. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, jailed for life for his part in blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988, was freed by Scottish authorities in August, 2009, on compassionate grounds, as he had prostate cancer and was thought to have just months to live. “The Libyans have told HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] flat out that there will be ‘enormous repercussions’ for the UK-Libya bilateral relationship if Megrahi’s early release is not handled properly,” U.S. diplomat Richard LeBaron wrote in a cable to Washington in October, 2008.

MAHMUD TURKIA/Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images

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NICARAGUA/VENEZUELA: Nicaragua received “suitcases full of cash” from Venezuela that may have helped to sway tainted elections in 2008, according to U.S. diplomatic cables that throw light on Nicaragua’s increasingly authoritarian leader Daniel Ortega. “We have first-hand reports that (Nicaraguan) officials receive suitcases full of cash from Venezuelan officials during official trips to Caracas,” the U.S. Embassy in Managua said in a 2008 cable made public by Wikileaks that appeared online in Spain’s El Pais. The cables were written several months before the November, 2008, municipal elections. Mr. Ortega, a former guerrilla leader whose Sandinista rebels fought U.S.-backed government forces in a 1980s civil war, faced widespread fraud allegations in those polls when the Sandinistas won big victories.

OSWALDO RIVAS/Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

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VENEZUELA/CUBA: Cuban intelligence services directly advised Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in what a U.S. diplomat called the “Axis of Mischief,” according to a State Department cable. “Cuban intelligence officers have direct access to Chavez and frequently provide him with intelligence reporting unvetted by Venezuelan officers,” said the 2006 note released by WikiLeaks. Other cables revealed U.S. anxiety at Mr. Chavez’s “cosiness” with Iran and concerns of Venezuelan Jews over what they saw as government prejudice against them.


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EUROPEAN UNION: Leaked diplomatic memos said that European Union President Herman Van Rompuy told America’s ambassador that the EU no longer believes in success in Afghanistan, and that European troops are still there “out of deference to the United States.” U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman, in the memo released by WikiLeaks, quotes Mr. Van Rompuy as saying in December, 2009, that the EU will wait until the end of 2010 to see progress.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

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CANADA: A leaked U.S. cable recorded a meeting of diplomats in Kabul on Feb. 20, 2010, just after Afghan President Hamid Karzai sought to rewrite Afghanistan’s election laws to give himself more powers. William Crosbie, Canada's ambassador to Kabul, is recorded as criticizing Mr. Karzai and his powerful family, including his half-brother and Kandahar power-broker Ahmed Wali Karzai. “I speak in very critical terms about the misuse of power by Karzai and his family (AWK is named) and urge the international community to oppose Karzai’s attempts to take control of the electoral law in advance of the [parliamentary] elections,” Mr. Crosbie wrote in a diplomatic note to Ottawa on Dec. 1, of which The Globe obtained a copy.

Bill Graveland/Bill Graveland/The Canadian Press

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FRANCE/CANADA: Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables show that Bernard Kouchner, Nicolas Sarkozy's foreign minister until three weeks ago, personally asked Hillary Clinton to review the Omar Khadr case in a 2009 meeting. The document shows that while Mr. Kouchner was doing this, the Canadian government remained silent on the issue.

Yves Logghe/Yves Logghe/The Associated Press

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CANADA: In a briefing note for U.S. President Barack Obama a few weeks before his February, 2009, visit to Canada, an American diplomat says the President has an “enormous popularity among Canadians” with an approval rating of 81 per cent. “[Your popularity] is to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper both a blessing – because he can for the first time since taking office in 2006 gain politically from public and policy association with the U.S. President – and a curse – because no Canadian politician of any stripe is nearly as popular, respected, or inspiring as you are to Canadian voters, a genuine factor in the historically low turnout in the October 2008 Canadian federal election,” wrote Scott Bellard, head of the political section at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa. Mr. Obama’s decision to make his first foreign trip to Ottawa “will do much to diminish – temporarily, at least – Canada’s habitual inferiority complex vis-a-vis the U.S,” says the Jan. 22, 2009, cable.

Adrian Wyld

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CANADA: American diplomats feel that several CBC dramatic programs “twist current events to feed long-standing negative images of the U.S.,” according to a leaked Jan. 25, 2008, cable. The note mentions The Border, Intelligence and Little Mosque on the Prairie in illustrating what an American diplomat describes as “the kind of insidious negative popular stereotyping we are up against in Canada.”

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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FRANCE/CANADA/BRITAIN: French President Nicolas Sarkozy invited Prime Minister Stephen Harper to France’s 2009 D-Day memorial because he felt sympathy for Mr. Harper’s political troubles, according to a June 8, 2009, cable. French official Jean-David Levitte says Mr. Sarkozy invited Mr. Harper and Britain’s then-prime minister, Gordon Brown, because of political need. “The cases of the UK and Canada were exceptional, he added, because both Gordon Brown and Stephen Harper were in such political trouble at home that the survival of their governments was at stake,” the cable records Mr. Levitte as explaining.

MAL Langsdon/Mal Langsdon/Reuters

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CANADA: Former CSIS director Jim Judd complained that judicial rulings and public naiveté were paralyzing his spies, lamenting that Canadians were prone to “knee-jerk anti-Americanism” and “paroxysms of moral outrage,” according to a 2008 leaked U.S. diplomatic cable. “Director Judd ascribed an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ worldview to Canadians and their courts, whose judges have tied CSIS ‘in knots’,” it says. The cable also said that Canada’s spies are developing an intelligence channel into Iran and are “vigorously harassing” Hezbollah operatives.

CHRIS WATTIE/Chris Wattie/Reuters

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RUSSIA: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is an “alpha-dog” ruler of a deeply corrupt state dominated by its security forces, U.S. diplomatic documents said. By contrast, President Dmitry Medvedev “plays Robin to Putin’s Batman.”

DMITRY ASTAKHOV/Dmitry Astakhov/AFP/Getty Images

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ITALY: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is “feckless, vain and ineffective” and his “frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard mean he does not get sufficient rest,” a U.S. diplomat said.

FRANCOIS LENOIR/Francois Lenoir/Reuters

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ARGENTINA: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton questioned the mental health of Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, asking U.S. diplomats to investigate whether she was on medication.

ALEJANDRO PAGNI/Alejandro Pagni/AFP/Getty Images

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EUROPE: Leaked cables show that most of the 200 U.S. tactical nuclear bombs still left in Europe are based in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Turkey. The four nations have long been suspected of hosting the warheads, but NATO and the governments involved have always refused to formally confirm the suspicions. Italy and Britain also are believed to house dozens of nuclear bombs, but they were not named in the cables. NATO condemned the release of the confidential information, calling it “illegal and dangerous.”

YVES HERMAN/Yves Herman/Reuters

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TURKEY: One message describes Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, as “exceptionally dangerous.” The description of Mr. Davutoglu came before he was foreign minister in a 2004 cable that quoted Turkey’s defence minister. Mr. Davutoglu brushed aside the cable, saying the WikiLeaks release would “not affect our foreign policy.” In another cable, diplomats portrayed the country’s leadership as divided and permeated by Islamists and said advisers to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had “little understanding of politics beyond Ankara.”

JEWEL SAMAD/Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

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IRAN: A U.S. intelligence assessment concludes that Iran has received advanced North Korean missiles capable of targeting Western European capitals and giving the Islamic Republic’s arsenal a significantly farther reach than previously disclosed. U.S. officials presented the claim in a meeting with top Russian security officials in late 2009 but did not offer conclusive evidence of the transfer of at least 19 so-called BM-25 missiles, according to a confidential memo posted by WikiLeaks.


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AFGHANISTAN: A secret diplomatic cable says Afghan President Hamid Karzai freed dangerous detainees and pardoned suspected drug dealers because they had connections to powerful figures. The cable said that in April, 2009, Mr. Karzai pardoned five Afghan policemen caught with 124 kilograms of heroin because they were related to two heroic figures of the Afghan civil war fought in the mid-1990s.

Gemunu Amarasinghe/Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press

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ISRAEL: A confidential diplomatic cable says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports the notion of land swaps with the Palestinians. The Feb. 26, 2009, cable, dated two weeks after the Israeli leader was elected, says “Netanyahu expressed support for the concept of land swaps, and emphasized that he did not want to govern the West Bank and Gaza but rather to stop attacks from being launched from there.” However, an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Netanyahu did not discuss land swaps.

RONEN ZVULUN/Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

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KENYA: The German magazine Der Spiegel says one cable depicts Kenya as a “swamp of flourishing corruption.” Alfred Mutua, a Kenyan government spokesman, said that Johnny Carson, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, called Prime Minister Raila Odinga to offer an apology.

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

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THE MIDDLE EAST: The Guardian newspaper said some cables showed King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia repeatedly urging the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program. The newspaper also said officials in Jordan and Bahrain have openly called for Iran's nuclear program to be stopped by any means and that leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt referred to Iran as 'evil,' an 'existential threat' and a power that 'is going to take us to war', the paper said. Those documents may prove the trickiest because even though the concerns of the Gulf Arab states are known, their leaders rarely offer such stark appraisals in public.

Hasan Sarbakhshian/Hasan Sarbakhshian/The Associated Press

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NORTH KOREA: The New York Times highlighted documents that indicated the U.S. and South Korea were 'gaming out an eventual collapse of North Korea' and discussing the prospects for a unified country if the isolated, communist North's economic troubles and political transition lead it to implode

The Associated Press/Korean Central News Agency

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PAKISTAN: The New York Times cited diplomatic messages describing unsuccessful U.S. efforts to prod Pakistani officials to remove highly enriched uranium from a reactor out of fear that the material could be used to make an illicit atomic device.

ISHARA S.KODIKARA/Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

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YEMEN: The New York Times cited exchanges showing Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, telling General David Petraeus that his country would pretend that American missile strikes against a local al-Qaeda group had come from Yemen's forces.

KHALED FAZAA/Khaled Fazaa/AFP/Getty Images

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SLOVENIA/KIRIBATI: The New York Times cited documents showing the U.S. used hardline tactics to win approval from countries to accept freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. It said Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if its president wanted to meet with President Barack Obama and said the Pacific island of Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to take in a group of detainees.

Colin Perkel/Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press

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CHINA: The New York Times cited a message from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that included allegations from a Chinese contact that China's Politburo directed a cyber intrusion into Google's computer systems as part of a 'coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws.'

Andy Wong/Andy Wong/The Associated Press

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UNITED NATIONS: Le Monde, a French newspaper, said another memo asked U.S. diplomats to collect contact information about United Nations officials that included Internet passwords, credit card numbers and frequent flyer numbers. They were asked to obtain fingerprints, ID photos, DNA and iris scans of people of interest to the United States, the paper said.

Stan Honda/AFP Photo

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RUSSIA/ITALY: The New York Times said another batch of documents raised questions about Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his relationship with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. One cable said Mr. Berlusconi 'appears increasingly to be the mouthpiece of Putin' in Europe, the paper reported.

Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press

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GERMANY: Der Spiegel, a German magazine, reported that the documents portrayed German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in unflattering terms. It said American diplomats saw Ms. Merkel as risk-averse and Mr. Westerwelle as largely powerless.

Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

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LIBYA: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was described as erratic and in the near constant company of a Ukrainian nurse who was described in one cable as 'a voluptuous blonde,' according to the New York Times.

Alessandro Bianchi/The Associated Press

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