Nothing new in WikiLeaks documents: Blair

27th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The release by WikiLeaks of 400,000 documents related to the Iraq war and showing torture and more Iraqi deaths than previously thought revealed nothing new, former British prime minister Tony Blair said.

"All this information was already known," Blair told Wednesday's editions of Brazilian newspapers Folha de Sao Paulo and Estado de Sao Paulo during a visit to Sao Paulo.

The number of Iraqi civilians killed since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq -- which the WikiLeaks documents said was 15,000 more than the 50,000 previously disclosed -- "were, basically, victims of terrorism," Blair told Estado de Sao Paulo.

"What is important today, whether it is in Iraq or Iran or in other places in the world, is that we have to confront those who commit these acts of terrorism," he said.

Blair, prime minister from 1997 to 2007, lent Britain's full support to the invasion and occupation of Iraq ordered by former US president George W. Bush on the premise that Baghdad was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

He has defended that support in a recent autobiography, and in the Estado de Sao Paulo interview he dismissed calls in Britain for him to face war crimes charges as coming from "an extremely small group of people."

WikiLeaks, an international whistleblowing website, last week released the 400,000 classified US military documents it said shed light on the Iraq war.

The documents showed alleged widespread torture by Iraqi forces trained by the United States, and reports suggesting the 15,000 additional civilian deaths in the Iraq conflict.

US officials claimed WikiLeaks was jeopardizing the security of its troops and Iraqi civilians.

But Iraq's rights ministry has said the logs "did not contain any surprises."

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Tuesday urged Iraq and the United States to investigate the allegations contained in the documents "and to bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings, summary executions, torture and other serious human rights abuses."

© 2010 AFP

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