Pentagon says WikiLeaks has not contacted them for help
The Pentagon on Wednesday said it had not received any request from the WikiLeaks group to help delete the names of Afghan informants in the 15,000 leaked documents still awaiting publication.
A WikiLeaks spokesman in Germany, Daniel Schmitt, earlier told US news website The Daily Beast that the group had sought Pentagon help to erase the names of civilians in the documents still to be released.
Schmitt said he wanted to open a line of communication with the Pentagon to review the 15,000 classified reports in order to “make redactions so they can be safely published.”
“We have not been contacted by Wikileaks,” said Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan however.
The first batch of documents WikiLeaks released on July 25 contain a string of damaging claims, including allegations that Pakistani spies met directly with the Taliban and that the deaths of innocent civilians at the hands of international forces have been covered up.
The documents also included some names of Afghan informants.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the US military’s top officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, said that the publication endangers locals providing information to US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The White House and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have also fiercely criticized the document publication.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 39, an Australian former hacker and computer programmer, said he believed publication would help focus public debate on the war in Afghanistan and on possible atrocities by US-led forces.
WikiLeaks, which styles itself “the first intelligence agency of the people”, was founded in December 2006 and invited would-be whistleblowers from around the world to make anonymous contributions.
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 Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad in which civilians died. Manning is in a US military prison after being held in a military jail in Kuwait.
The Pentagon and the FBI have launched an investigation into the case.