Monday, October 18, 2010

WikiLeaks Denies Iraq Leak Reports

WikiLeaks denies Iraq leak reports

Whistleblowing website denies it will soon release 400,000 classified US military documents on the war in Iraq

19 Oct 2010 03:25 GMT

WikiLeaks has come under fire from the Pentagon for making public sensitive military information

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has denied reports that his website is about to leak a huge number of US documents on Iraq.

He also said that whistle-blowing organisation, which leaked massive amounts of official documents, had its funding cut off.

He accused the US government of "financial warfare" against the website and said that the company that handles many of its donations has stopped the money flow.

The Pentagon denied that it was involved in the financial cut off, but said it was bracing itself for the publication of hundreds of thousands of documents on the site.

The Pentagon said the group had as many as 400,000 documents from a military database on US operations in Iraq, and asked media companies not to publish them.

Assange, however, downplayed expectations of such a leak.

In a Twitter post, Assange said information were coming from "a single tabloid blog" that had put out a "tremendous amount'' of false information about his site.

Residency problem

Meanwhile, Sweden's immigration authority said it had denied a residence permit to Assange. WikiLeaks stores some of its servers in Sweden, and the country's freedom of information laws give protection for whistleblowers.

The Swedish national immigration authority delivered a setback to Assange's efforts to gain protection from its generous media freedom laws by announcing that it had rejected his request for residency.

Gunilla Wikstrom, a spokesperson for the country's migration board, declined to explain why Assange's application had been denied, saying the reason was confidential.

Prosecutors are still investigating rape and sexual molestation allegations made against Assange by two Swedish women. He's denied the allegations, arguing that they are part of a smear campaign to discredit him. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to file charges in the case, which became public nearly two months ago.

Speaking generally, Wikstrom said only crimes that have been proven would affect the Migration Board's decision, which Assange has three weeks to appeal.

Assange did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the residency issue.

Funding freeze

He did, however, release correspondence from London-based, which pulled the plug on its relationship with WikiLeaks over the summer, shortly after the website published a massive trove of US intelligence documents relating to the war in Afghanistan.

The unprecedented leak infuriated the Pentagon and energised opponents of the war in Afghanistan.

When Assange queried Moneybookers about their decision, the company said that his site had been added to "blacklists in Australia and watch lists in the USA,'' according to an August 13 email exchange.

It was not clear which blacklists or watchlists Moneybookers was referring to. The organisation declined to elaborate on its correspondence, saying that it always followed the law and that it had never been asked directly by any government to stop dealing with WikiLeaks.

It noted that it sometimes dropped clients "as part of our rigorous, continuous risk management checks.'' It offered no details on the nature of those checks.

Australian officials denied that they'd blacklisted the site, while Marti Adams, a spokesperson for the US treasury department, said that WikiLeaks was not targeted by any of the department's sanctions programmes.

Assange stressed that Washington was pressuring the site to close down his account.

"Craven behaviour in relation to the US government is unlikely to be seen sympathetically,'' he said in an August 16 email to one of the site's administrators.

The blacklisting allegations illustrate the problems WikiLeaks has faced as it tries to raise money online against opposition from the US government. WikiLeaks has in the past shut its website down due to lack of funds.

It has been down "for scheduled maintenance'' for the past two weeks.

Source: Agencies

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