U.S. Warns of Potential Retribution Against People Named in Wiki Documents

Several hundred foreign officials, businessmen and journalists might be at risk for retribution after being exposed in secret government cables made public by WikiLeaks, the State Department warned on Friday.

In a handful of the most serious cases, the U.S. has moved individuals to safer locations, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters at a news conference.

"We are focused on people who have been identified in documents and assessing whether there's a greater risk to them of violence, imprisonment or...serious harm, particularly in our repressive societies around the world."

Crowley also took the opportunity to send a warning to governments who may seek to pursue or harm individuals identified in the leaked cables.

"We will make it clear to governments, without discussing particular identities, that if they do for some reason move on individuals that -- that may be exposed in cables, that will be something that affects our relations," he said.

The State Department established a working group last year to sift through the roughly 251,000 documents it believes WikiLeaks has in its possession, with the purpose determining what damaging information would be released and who would be put at risk.

For example, when WikiLeaks released military documents related to the Iraq and Afghan wars, the Pentagon worried the identities of local intelligence assets would be revealed. So far no deaths have been tied to any of the WikiLeaks document dumps.

So far, the diplomatic fallout from the leaked cables has mostly been described as "embarrassing" by senior U.S. officials, but not particularly harmful. Still, WikiLeaks has only released less than 1 percent of its 251,000 secret documents.