n file photo by kageaki smith 
deal: The four Uyghur men arrived in Bermuda in June last year following their release from Guantanamo Bay. It is possible Wikileaks’ impending release of more diplomatic cables could contain details about the secret negotiations with the U.S. to bring them here.
* File photo by Kageaki Smith. Deal: The four Uyghur men arrived in Bermuda in June last year following their release from Guantanamo Bay. It is possible Wikileaks’ impending release of more diplomatic cables could contain details about the secret negotiations with the U.S. to bring them here.
n file photo by kageaki smith 
deal: The four Uyghur men arrived in Bermuda in June last year following their release from Guantanamo Bay. It is possible Wikileaks’ impending release of more diplomatic cables could contain details about the secret negotiations with the U.S. to bring them here.
* File photo by Kageaki Smith. Deal: The four Uyghur men arrived in Bermuda in June last year following their release from Guantanamo Bay. It is possible Wikileaks’ impending release of more diplomatic cables could contain details about the secret negotiations with the U.S. to bring them here.

A lawyer for the four Uyghurs in Bermuda has criticised the leak of ­classified U.S. government documents.

Sabin Willett, who helped negotiate the transfer of the four prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the ­island, was “surprised” at the decision of whistleblower website Wikileaks to open up confidential U.S. embassy cables to the ­public.

He said he was not aware that any of the 250,000 plus documents —said to ­include 68 about Bermuda — contained any details of U.S./Bermuda discussions over the Uyghurs.

Negotiations

But he added it was ­better for everyone if such discussions were held ­behind closed doors.

Mr. Willett said: “I’m not aware of any of this material bearing on the U.S./ Bermuda negotiations.

“I am very surprised to see diplomatic cables leaked in this fashion.

“I don’t think it helps the nations or the ­detainees.  

“It is better for governments to be able to have frank discussions without worrying about their ­discussions becoming ­public prematurely.” ­

According to Wikileaks, 68 of its massive cache of diplomatic cables spanning the past 40 years refer to Bermuda, with 27 of them coming directly from the U.S. Consulate just outside Hamilton.

The majority are said to be from the last three years.

None of the reports referencing Bermuda appear to have been published in the first wave of 220 documents posted on Sunday night.

But the website has indicated it plans to release the information in stages over the next few months.

It is not known what the Bermuda files will contain but it is possible that new details about the secret ­negotiations with the U.S. over the Uyghurs could emerge.

The New York Times, which has been given ­advance access to the information, reported on ­Monday that the cables did include fresh details over the “bargaining to empty the Guantanamo Bay prison”. The paper reports: “Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President ­Obama, while Kiribati was ­offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in Chinese Muslim ­detainees, cables from diplomats recounted.

“The Americans, meanwhile, suggested that ­accepting more prisoners would be ‘a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe’.”

Dr. Ewart Brown, who was Premier when the Uyghurs came to Bermuda in June last year, declined to comment yesterday.

Colonel David Burch, the only other Government Minister involved in the discussions, was off-island.

Classified

U.S. Consul Grace Shelton condemned the leak.

She said: “Our relationship with Bermuda is based on respect and shared goals and we expect this strong partnership to continue.
“Any unauthorized ­disclosure of classified ­information by Wikileaks has harmful implications for engagement among and between nations.   

“We condemn such unauthorized disclosures and are taking every step to ­prevent future security breaches. While we cannot speak to the authenticity of any documents provided to the press, we can speak to the diplomatic community’s practice of cable writing.

“These cables are often preliminary and incomplete expressions of foreign policy and they should not be seen as having standing on their own or as representing U.S. policy.

 “Releasing the names of individuals cited in conversations that took place in confidence potentially puts lives or careers at risk.  

“It is reprehensible for an individual or organization to attempt to gain notoriety or wealth at the expense of people who had every ­expectation of privacy in sharing information.”