US commander slams Wikileaks

2010-08-15 21:58

Washington - The top US military commander in Afghanistan on Sunday blasted as "reprehensible" the release of Afghan war documents, saying that US partners named in them have been put at risk.

General David Petraeus's comments came in response to a threat by the founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, to make public another batch of secret documents in a "couple of weeks" despite mounting Pentagon protests.

WikiLeaks has already released 76 000 military documents from the Afghan conflict, but is still holding another 15 000 classified files.

In an interview with NBC's Meet the Press, Petraeus said he was not sure what might be in the unreleased documents, but said the files released so far have contained information that compromised people working with the international forces.

"As we have looked through it more and more, there are source names and in some cases there are actual names of individuals with whom we have partnered in difficult missions in difficult places.

"And obviously, that is very reprehensible."


He said the release of the documents, though consisting of raw documents that were not top secret, was "beyond unfortunate".

"I mean, this is a betrayal of trust," he added.

Assange, an Australian former computer hacker, on Saturday pledged to release the last batch of secret war documents, insisting WikiLeaks "will not be threatened by the Pentagon or any other group".

The 76 000 documents 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 said the second batch of documents was set aside because they were "more likely to contain personal identifying information," and therefore required line-by-line review.

Wikileaks has never identified the source of the Afghan files but suspicion has fallen on Bradley Manning, a US Army intelligence analyst under arrest for allegedly leaking video of a 2007 US helicopter strike in Baghdad in which civilians died.