USA — Spokesman Denies Pentagon Role in WikiLeaks Founder Charge

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.”

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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