Secret U.S. diplomatic dispatches released by the WikiLeaks website seem to suggest that the American Embassy in Cairo was quietly aiding young Egyptian political dissidents who were plotting to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011, the UK’s Telegraph is reporting.

According to the Telegraph, American embassy officials helped at least one young dissident attend a U.S.-sponsored summit for political activists in New York while simultaneously working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police. Upon his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist reportedly told American diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups planned to overthrow Mubarack before the country’s 2011 national elections.

In addition, diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show American officials pressuring the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by police.

The US government has previously been a supporter of Mr Mubarak’s regime. But the leaked documents show the extent to which America was offering support to pro-democracy activists in Egypt while publicly praising Mr Mubarak as an important ally in the Middle East.

In a secret diplomatic dispatch, sent on December 30 2008, Margaret Scobey, the US Ambassador to Cairo, recorded that opposition groups had allegedly drawn up secret plans for “regime change” to take place before elections, scheduled for September this year.

The memo, which Ambassador Scobey sent to the US Secretary of State in Washington DC, was marked “confidential” and headed: “April 6 activist on his US visit and regime change in Egypt.”

It said the activist claimed “several opposition forces” had “agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections”. The embassy’s source said the plan was “so sensitive it cannot be written down”.

Ambassador Scobey questioned whether such an “unrealistic” plot could work, or ever even existed. However, the documents showed that the activist had been approached by US diplomats and received extensive support for his pro-democracy campaign from officials in Washington. The embassy helped the campaigner attend a “summit” for youth activists in New York, which was organised by the US State Department.

Cairo embassy officials warned Washington that the activist’s identity must be kept secret because he could face “retribution” when he returned to Egypt. He had already allegedly been tortured for three days by Egyptian state security after he was arrested for taking part in a protest some years earlier. …

The documents released by WikiLeaks reveal US Embassy officials were in regular contact with the activist throughout 2008 and 2009, considering him one of their most reliable sources for information about human rights abuses.