WikiLeaks says evidence of war crimes in documents

LONDON (AP) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Monday he
believes there is evidence of war crimes in the thousands of pages
of leaked U.S. military documents relating to the war in
Afghanistan.

The remarks came after WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing group,
posted some 91,000 classified U.S. military records over the past
six years about the war online, including unreported incidents of
Afghan civilian killings and covert operations against Taliban
figures.

The White House, Britain and Pakistan have all condemned the
release of the documents, one of the largest unauthorized
disclosures in military history.

Assange told reporters in London that "it is up to a court to
decide really if something in the end is a crime. That said ...
there does appear to be evidence of war crimes in this material."

Assange compared the impact of the released material to the
opening of the East German secret police archives. "This is the
equivalent of opening the Stasi archives," he said.

The documents cover much of what the public already knows about
the troubled nine-year conflict: U.S. special operations forces
have targeted militants without trial, Afghans have been killed by
accident, and U.S. officials have been infuriated by alleged
Pakistani intelligence cooperation with the very insurgent groups
bent on killing Americans.

WikiLeaks posted the documents Sunday. The New York Times,
London's Guardian newspaper and the German weekly Der Spiegel were given early access to the records.

White House national security adviser Gen. Jim Jones said the
release "put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk." In
a statement, he then took pains to point out that the documents
describe a period from January 2004 to December 2009, mostly during
the administration of President George W. Bush. And, Jones added,
before President Obama announced a new strategy.

Pakistan's Ambassador Husain Haqqani agreed, saying the
documents "do not reflect the current on-ground realities," in
which his country and Washington are "jointly endeavoring to
defeat al-Qaida and its Taliban allies."

The U.S. and Pakistan assigned teams of analysts to read the
records online to assess whether sources or locations were at risk.

Pakistan's powerful spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence,
said Monday that the accusations it had close connections to
Taliban militants were malicious and unsubstantiated.

A senior ISI official said they were from unverified raw
intelligence reports and were meant to impugn the reputation of the
spy agency. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the
agency's policy.

Hamid Gul, a former head of the ISI who is mentioned many times
in the documents, also denied allegations that he'd worked with the
insurgents.

Assange said his group also had many more documents on other
subjects, including files on countries from across the globe.

"We have built up an enormous backlog of whistleblower
disclosures," he said. "We have in this backlog ... files that
concern every country in the world with a population of over 1
million."

He refused to go into detail, but said the information included
"thousands of databases and files about all sorts of countries."

Assange said that he believed more material would flood amid the
blaze of publicity.

"It is our experience that courage is contagious," he said.
"Sources are encouraged by the opportunities that they see before
them."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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