UPDATE 1-Pentagon cautions news media on WikiLeaks documents | Reuters

UPDATE 1-Pentagon cautions news media on WikiLeaks documents

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Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:00pm EDT

* WikiLeaks due to release leaked US Iraq war documents

* Pentagon urges whistle-blower site not to post them

* Pentagon calls WikiLeaks a “disreputable organization” (Adds WikiLeaks comment, paragraph 8-9)

By David Alexander

WASHINGTON, Oct 18 (Reuters) – The Pentagon urged news organizations on Monday not to publish classified U.S. documents due to be released by WikiLeaks as U.S. officials brace for a mass disclosure of leaked Iraq war files by the whistle-blower website.

WikiLeaks, which in July released some 70,000 U.S. documents on the Afghanistan war, is expected soon to post on its website as many as 500,000 classified leaked U.S. documents from the Iraq war. The U.S. government in July condemned the release of the initial leaked documents, which painted a grim picture of the war in Afghanistan that began in 2001.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan said the U.S. military is “absolutely” urging WikiLeaks to “return the stolen documents to the United States government and … not publish them.” Lapan also appealed to the news media.

“News organizations should be cautioned not to facilitate the leaking of classified documents with this disreputable organization known as WikiLeaks,” Lapan said.

“The concern is that WikiLeaks as an organization should not be made more credible by having credible news organizations facilitate what they’re doing,” he said.

The Pentagon’s comments came on the same day that Sweden said it denied a work and residency permit to Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. [ID:nLDE69H23H]

WikiLeaks Tweeted a response late Monday, saying: “Rather than apologizing for misleading the press, the Pentagon tries bully it into not reporting.”

It also Tweeted a link to an earlier version of this story.

Assange has been establishing a base in Sweden in order to benefit from the Nordic country’s strict journalist protection laws. He is also being investigated over rape allegations in Sweden, which he has denied, calling them baseless.

Assange, an Australian citizen, can appeal the decision within three weeks.

‘VENEER OF LEGITIMACY’

At the Pentagon, Lapan said he was not suggesting that news organizations ignore leaked documents, but questioned providing “a veneer of legitimacy to WikiLeaks” by publishing the originals.

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