WikiLeaks founder blasts Pentagon amid Afghan files row

1st October 2010, Comments 0 comments

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Thursday the Pentagon was intent on destroying the whistleblower website and denied it had endangered innocent people.

The 39-year-old said WikiLeaks faced a fierce onslaught from the Pentagon after releasing tens of thousands of classified US military documents on the Afghan war.

"I need to express the seriousness of the attack against this media organisation," he told an audience in London.

"The Pentagon has demanded... that we destroy, totally destroy, our previous publications, including that Afghan publication.

"The Pentagon is trying to get up an espionage case and destroy our organisation," the Australian former computer hacker added:

His warning was the latest salvo in a war of words between the website and US military chiefs since WikiLeaks published nearly 77,000 classified US military documents on the war in Afghanistan on July 23.

Assange had previously said a further 15,000 from the massive cache are being prepared for release.

The released files included allegations that Pakistani spies met with the Taliban and that deaths of innocent civilians at the hands of international forces were covered up.

But the documents also included names of some Afghan informants, prompting claims that the leaks have endangered lives.

Assange insisted Thursday the site aimed to protect people.

"We do not have a goal of innocent people being harmed. We have precisely the opposite goal," he said at London's City University.

Asked about the approach taken to vetting the documents, he refused to go into details but said: "We took a harm limitation approach... we think that that effort was pretty good."

Assange denied reports that WikiLeaks's representative in Germany was suspended over criticisms of the way the website was run.

Daniel Schmitt told German news magazine Der Spiegel that Assange had unilaterally taken the decision to suspend him and had "reacted to the smallest criticism by accusing me of being disobedient and disloyal towards the project."

But Assange dismissed this as "absolute lies". "He was suspended a month ago for other reasons," said the WikiLeaks founder, without giving details.

Assange has recently been based in Sweden but his time there has been clouded by rape allegations against him. He has said the allegations are part of a "smear campaign" aimed at discrediting his website.

© 2010 AFP

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