WikiLeaks founder tells US to open up on Iraq war

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called Thursday on the United States to open up "instead of covering up" after the website's release of secret US documents detailing abuses committed during the Iraq war.

Assange pledged to carry on publishing exposes on various countries, including the United States, in keeping with the whistleblowing site's bid since 2007 to publish secret and important information.

"It is time the United States opened up instead of covering up. The US is in danger of losing its way," he told journalists in Geneva, pointing to a "proud" US tradition of freedom of information.

"The law means nothing if the law is not upheld by a government," he added.

Assange was due to attend a session of the 47 member UN Human Rights Council in the Swiss city on Friday which will conduct its first ever periodic review on Friday of the United States' rights record.

WikiLeaks last month published an unprecedented 400,000 classified US documents on the Iraq war and posted 77,000 secret US files on the Afghan conflict in July.

It argues the release of the documents has shed light on the wars, including allegations of torture by Iraqi forces and reports that suggested 15,000 additional civilian deaths in the Iraq conflict.

Assange insisted that there had been no sign of an investigation into the substance of the leaked documents by the United States even though other countries such as Britain and Denmark had moved to do so.

Instead, he said the website and those working with it had been threatened and ordered by the Pentagon to quash information.

"That is an extraordinary demand and threat," Assange claimed.

"I find myself, and our organisation finds itself, in the rather unusual position of being both expert witness to human rights abuses committed by the United States government in various areas and a victim of some those abuses ourselves," he added, flanked by two bodyguards.

Assange said staff or people "affiliated" to the website were under pressure or had been detained.

US officials have accused the organisation of endangering the lives of troops and civilians who worked with US-led forces by revealing secret files, and have denied turning a blind eye on prisoner abuse.

© 2010 AFP

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