'We Stand by Our Whistleblowing'

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN HARRY

A WHISTLEBLOWING group insisted last night its decision to publish secret US military documents was to reveal the truth about the war in Iraq.

Despite criticism it could put the lives of British armed forces in danger, WikiLeaks posted nearly 400,000 leaked classified reports on the internet.

They contain accounts of abuse and misconduct by Iraqi authorities and US forces. There are also some allegations of abuse by UK soldiers, the website said.

The reports relate to 109,000 deaths - including 66,000 civilians, of which 15,000 were previously undocumented, it claimed.

WikiLeak's founder Julian Assange told a news conference in central London: "This disclosure is about the truth.

"We hope to correct some of that attack on the truth that occurred before thewar, during thewar, and which has continued on since the war officially concluded.While I amnot sure we have achieved the maximum possible [political impact] I think we are getting pretty close."

Last night the Ministry of Defence said thewebsite had been reckless and was putting the lives of British military personnel in danger.

Aspokesman said:"We condemn any unauthorised release of classified material.

It would be inappropriate to speculate on the detail of these documents without further investigation while the Iraq inquiry is ongoing.

"There is no place for mistreatment of detainees and we investigate any allegation made against our troops."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki condemnedthe leak as a political stunt andUSSecretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested leaks put lives at risk. Pentagon spokesman, Marine Corps ColonelDave Lapan, said:"We deplore WikiLeaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world, including our enemies. …