September 11, 2010

NATO Chief: Wikileaks Papers May Endanger Troops

NATO's secretary general warned Friday that the release of a huge collection of classified Afghan war documents by Wikileaks could endanger the safety of international and Afghan troops.

Wikileaks released about 77,000 US military documents on the war in July and plans to release about 15,000 more despite warnings that it might place informants and other named individuals at risk.

Wikileaks published the material with the collaborative efforts of the New York Times, Britain's Guardian and Der Spiegel of Germany.

"I find it very unfortunate to publish confidential papers that might also compromise the security of our own forces and of Afghan citizens cooperating with their own government and with the international troops," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a news conference after talks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is currently facing an investigation by Swedish prosecutors over allegations of rape.

Assange, 39, said the allegations are part of a smear campaign aimed at discrediting the whistleblower website, which is in a fight with the Pentagon over the release of the Afghan war documents.

Iain Overton, editor of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, based out of London, said the material constitutes the "biggest leak of military intelligence" ever, as quoted by Newsweek.

Newsweek said the Iraq documents held by Wikileaks are believed to be about three times as large as the number of US military field reports on Afghanistan released earlier this year by Wikileaks.

Overton told Newsweek that his organization was working with Wikileaks, television and print media in several countries on stories based on the Iraq documents. He declined to identify news organizations involved but said they would release the material simultaneously several weeks from now.

Overton also noted that his organization was aware that information in the documents could put lives at risk and said they were "taking it very seriously."

The United States and NATO have 150,000 troops in Afghanistan trying to suppress the insurgency that began soon after the Taliban regime was overthrown in the US-led invasion in late 2001.


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