Australians angrily condemned the decision of a weekly women's magazine to break the news blackout on Prince Harry's deployment to Afghanistan.
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The story was published in Australian tabloid magazine New Idea last month but not followed up by other media.
In an article on its website dated January 7, the magazine - nicknamed in Australia 'No Idea' - reported that Harry had seen front line action in Afghanistan despite opposition from the British government and members of the Royal family.
New Idea said it could "exclusively reveal" that the "maverick prince" had already seen front-line action.
The story was then picked up by a German newspaper and, yesterday, the US-based Drudge Report website, triggering world wide interest.
In an online poll on Sky News Australia, 78 per cent said it was wrong for the media to have leaked Prince Harry's deployment.
New Idea's website was flooded with readers expressing their fury and calling for the resignation of its editor.
Readers labelled its journalists "guttersnipes", "money-hungry idiots", "morons" and "selfish parasites", saying they were an embarrassment to Australians living abroad.
One message said: "Nice one... let's open our big gobs and turn him into the target he so obviously was NOT when no-one knew he was out there!"
A second reader wrote: "It seems that a 'hot' news story is more important than the secrecy needed to protect lives. Shame on you!"
Daphie 18 wrote: "Disgraceful, typical of you useless non thinking 'chicklit' journalists to let this news out and compromise Harry's chance at being able to do his job. You should be ashamed of yourselves. All the other media organisations had agreed on a black-out on this story, you're obviously too greedy. Idiots!"
'Sdgreen2000' wrote: "Your publication concerning Prince Harry in Afghanistan is absolutely deplorable. You should be charged with treason for your actions."
Vivstclair added: "What a brain dead bunch of morons you are to publish this story. You lot belong in the gutter along with the radical Islamists you have just given valuable information too. You scumbags don't care who you damage or put in harms way!"
An Australian soldier serving in the British army said he was "disgusted" by New Idea's "poor journalism".
"Well done. You broke a world embargo on this and as a result it's most likely that a young officer (who happens to be a Royal) will now have to return from operations due to the increased risk to himself and fellow British soldiers.
A post filed under the name Buggerall read: "By your disgraceful actions you have endangered the life of this young man and the lives of British, Australian and Coalition soldiers. Next time there you hear about the death of a soldier in Afghanistan you may be responsible. You are vermin!" 'Svs02' wrote: "Well done on breaking the embargo and putting the lives of every British soldier in Afghanistan at much greater risk. I hope you're proud of yourselves, because everyone else thinks you're scum." The overwhelmingly negative reaction to the magazine's decision to leak the story was summed up by Lucia. "New Idea? No Bloody Idea, more like."
Television news channels reported that British Army chiefs were "furious" that Prince Harry's cover had been blown.
"The pressure on New Idea will now be immense," said a reporter on Channel Nine. "But maybe he should be grateful he got 10 weeks."
Click to view image: '157273-wdrudge129.jpg'
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