A diplomatic cable, also known as a diplomatic telegram (DipTel) or embassy cable, is a confidential text-based message exchanged between a diplomatic mission, like an embassy or a consulate, and the foreign ministry of its parent country.Definition of "cable", A diplomatic cable is a type of dispatch. Other dispatches may be sent as physical documents in a diplomatic bag. The term ''cable'' derives from the time when the medium for such communications was telegraphs travelling along international
submarine communications cable Submarine cables are laid using special Orange_Marine.html"_;"title="cable_layer_ships,_such_as_the_modern_',_operated_by_Orange_Marine">cable_layer_ships,_such_as_the_modern_',_operated_by_Orange_Marine. A_submarine_communications_cable_is_a_ca ...
s, though over time they have progressed into other formats and pathways. The term '' cablegram'' is also sometimes used. Due to the importance and sensitive nature of the subject matter, diplomatic cables are protected by the most elaborate security precautions to prevent unfettered access by the public, and unauthorized interception by foreign governments. Generally digital in format, they are always encrypted, frequently by unbreakable one time pad ciphers using key material distributed using
diplomatic courier ''Diplomatic Courier'' is a 1952 crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Far ...

See also

Telegraphy Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of textual messages where the sender uses a semaphore system, known to the recipient, rather than a physical exchange of an object bearing the message. Thus flag semaphore Flag semaphore (from ...
* United States diplomatic cables leak – ''Cablegate'' by
WikiLeaks WikiLeaks () is an international Nonprofit organization, non-profit organisation that publishes news leaks and classified media provided by anonymous Source (journalism), sources. Its website, initiated in 2006 in Iceland by the organisation Su ...


Telegrams Diplomatic missions Diplomatic documents {{government-stub