Kenya calls US 'swamp of graft' cable 'malicious'

Kenya's government spokesman said Tuesday that a U.S. characterization of the country as a "swamp" of corruption in reports of leaked diplomatic memos is "malicious" if true.

Alfred Mutua also said that the top U.S. diplomat for Africa called Kenya's prime minister on Monday to apologize for the leaked memos.

U.S. Embassy spokesman John Haynes said senior State Department officials have called senior Kenyan government officials to inform them and to discuss their concerns. He did not elaborate.

The Obama administration has undertaken a worldwide effort to contain damage done by the release of more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables by the online clearinghouse WikiLeaks.

The lead headline in Kenya's Daily Nation on Tuesday read: "U.S. envoys see Kenya as a 'swamp' of graft." The Daily Nation relied on a report from the German magazine Der Spiegel, which said Kenya is depicted as "a swamp of flourishing corruption" in one of the as-yet unreleased cables.

Mutua said that if the reports are true, "then it is totally malicious and a total misrepresentation of our country and our leaders. We are surprised and shocked by these revelations."

He said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnny Carson called Prime Minister Raila Odinga to offer an apology.

"The U.S. government indicated they are sorry for the content in the leaked documents," he said. "They, however, have not told us what the documents say and what exactly they are sorry for."

Kenya's government is facing several allegations of high-level corruption.

Earlier this month, the U.S. banned four senior Kenyan government officials and a prominent Kenyan businessman from traveling to the U.S. because they are suspected of being involved in drug trafficking. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger has said the decision was based on reliable and corroborative reports.

Last month, Kenya's foreign affairs minister resigned to allow investigations into allegations of a multimillion dollar scandal involving five Kenyan embassies in Africa, Europe and Asia that was uncovered by a parliamentary committee.