US envoy quits Libya over busty blonde WikiLeak

According its founder, Julian Assange, controversial whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks endangered no lives with its recent outing of secret diplomatic cables. But it may have claimed its first casualty - the career of US ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz.

The diplomat, who in 2008 became the first US ambassador to Libya since his predecessor was withdrawn in 1972, has returned to Washington and is likely to leave his post, according to senior officials at the US State Department officials.

Cretz put his name to a number of messages leaked in WikiLeaks' 'Cablegate' data dump - many of them referring to the health and increasingly bizarre behaviour of Libyan dictator, General Muammar Qaddafi.

The juiciest nuggets among Cretz's dispatches to State Department officials were detailed in a cable entitled "A glimpse into Libyan leader Gaddafi's eccentricities".

In it, Cretz reported that Qaddafi "relies heavily" on a Ukrainian nurse - since named as Galyna Kolotnytska - "who has been described as a 'voluptuous blonde.'"

As regular internet users will know, the very mention of the words 'voluptuous blonde' is enough to prompt every salivating dweeb in the blogosphere to prick up his ears, and the search was on to find pictures.

Those pictures were happily provided (and subsequently removed) by enterprising blogger The Red Rag - even if they weren't actually of the Ukrainian nurse, just a Ukrainian nurse, whose picture he'd found on a site specialising in mail-order brides.

No formal announcement has been made, but a State Department unofficially confirmed that the WikiLeaks revelations weren't the only reason Cretz was returning to Washington, citing continuing friction between the US and Libya.

"It's a complicated relationship, and WikiLeaks just added to that complication," the official said.

The Arab state is accused of harbouring Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the man convicted of bombing Pan-Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, resulting in the deaths of 270, mostly US citizens.

al-Megrahi's release in 2009 by Scottish authorities on compassionate grounds sparked a diplomatic spat between the US and the British government, revealed in other Cablegate memos to be a factor in US intransigence over the case of UK hacker Gary McKinnon.

Now living in the Libyan capital Tripoli, al-Megrahi had previously been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and given just three months to live.

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