Wikileaks founder defends release of Afghan war files

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The founder of a website which published tens of thousands of leaked military files about the war in Afghanistan said Monday they showed that the "course of the war needs to change".

Julian Assange of Wikileaks also used a press conference in London to dismiss the White House's furious reaction to the disclosures.

"We're familiar with groups whose abuse we expose attempting to criticise the messenger," Assange said. "We don't see any difference in the White House response to this case".

When asked whether the leaks would have any bearing on planned international troop withdrawals in the next few years, he said: "I think it's too early to say yet.

"It's clear that it will shape understanding of what the past six years of war have been like and that the course of the war needs to change".

Wikileaks released tens of thousands of documents to three newspapers.

The most controversial allegations centre on claims that Pakistan, a key US ally, allows its spies to meet directly with the Taliban.

The leaks were strongly condemned by the White House, which said they could put the lives at risk and threaten national security.

Assange also defended the sourcing and reliability of the documents.

"Just like any dealing with any source, you should exercise some common sense -- that doesn't mean that you should close your eyes," Assange said. "We have no reason to doubt the reliability of these documents".

© 2010 AFP

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