WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2010 — A Defense Department spokesman today termed as “ridiculous” the notion that Pentagon officials were involved in recent rape allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Swedish authorities issued an arrest warrant Aug. 20, but revoked it soon after.
CNN reported today that Assange said the allegations were part of a “smear campaign” after his website posted tens of thousands of classified U.S. military war records. Assange says WikiLeaks has an additional 15,000 documents it plans to post.
Assange said he has ideas about who may be behind the accusations, but would not share his suspicion “without direct evidence.”
Any thought that the Defense Department may be part of such a conspiracy is “absurd,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today when reporters questioned him about the matter. “No. That’s ridiculous,” Whitman said.
Whitman said the Pentagon remains firm in its demand for WikiLeaks to remove the posted documents, many of which contain the names of U.S. troops and Afghan nationals who support them.
“I think we’ve made our position very clear, that this stolen property should be returned immediately,” Whitman said. “The information on the Web should be taken down. There should be no further posting of any information, and the department is not interested in any sort of minimization or sanitation exercise.”
The Pentagon is working to ensure the safety of the individuals – American and Afghan – named in the documents, Whitman added.
“The mere existence of some of these documents and the names that are in the documents certainly do pose a threat,” he said. “We have a moral and ethical obligation to take measures.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)