Cornwall has featured in the Wikileaks diplomatic scandal after a secret list of facilities that the USA considers vital to national security was released by the whistle-blowing website.

In February 2009 the US State Department asked all US missions abroad to list all installations whose loss could critically affect US national security.

The list includes the Goonhilly Downs earth station and undersea communications cable junctions near Penzance. Under sea communications cables at Bude were also listed as vital.

Goonhilly was at one time the largest satellite earth station in the world, with more than 25 communications dishes in use and over 60 in total. The site also links into undersea cable lines. It ceased all satellite operations in 2008 and a visitor’s centre at the site closed in 2010.

The first transatlantic television broadcasts were received by the satellite dish nicknamed Arthur from the USA via the Telstar satellite on July 11, 1962.

The site has also played a key role in communications events such as the Muhammad Ali fights, the 1969 moon landings and 1985's Live Aid concert.

Downing Street has condemned the leaking of the list, which was classified by the US as secret.

A spokesman said: "We unequivocally condemn the unauthorised release of classified information. The leaks and their publication are damaging to national security in the United States, Britain and elsewhere.

"It is vital that governments are able to operate on the basis of confidentiality of information."

Kristinn Hrafnsson, a spokesman for the Wikileaks website, denied that the information would be useful to radical groups.

“While this cable details the strategic importance of assets across the world, it does not give any information as to their exact locations, security measures, vulnerabilities or any similar factors — though it does reveal the US asked its diplomats to report back on these matters.”

Wikileaks lawyer Mark Stevens also denied that Wikileaks was putting people and facilities at risk.

"I don't think there's anything new in that," he said.

"What I think is new is the fact that it's been published by Wikileaks and of course we have the Wikileaks factor because a number of governments have been embarrassed by what's happened."