Washington, Aug 5 (IANS): Whistle-blower WikiLeaks has sought help from the US defence department to review 15,000 Afghanistan war files embargoed by the website as their release may endanger Afghan civilians who assisted US forces in fighting Taliban.
WikiLeaks has sent an urgent request to Pentagon for help to review 15,000 still-secret American military reports to remove the names of Afghan civilians and others who might be endangered when the reports are made public, The Daily Beast reported.
Daniel Schmitt, a WikiLeaks spokesman in Germany, said the website wanted to open a line of communication with the defence department to review the classified reports in an effort to "make redactions so they can be safely published".
The request follows statements of regret from website's founder Julian Assange and others that the website may have unintentionally endangered Afghan civilians with its first massive document dump of 72,000 leaked classified reports about the Afghanistan war that revealed the names and home villages of hundreds of locals who cooperated with American forces there.
The Taliban has said it will now hunt down the informants named in the leaked documents.
"I would certainly say that the invitation to talk to the Obama administration is open," said Schmitt. "It has been open before."
Assange has said that he withheld the 15,000 reports because they needed additional security reviews to protect innocent people from harm.
Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: "Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family."
"It is very harsh to hear that," Schmitt said, adding that the site has not heard of any harm coming to any of the informants named in the papers so far. "We’re not aware of any tragedies that have happened."
WikiLeaks has also claimed that it was rebuffed by the Obama administration - and by the Pentagon, in particular - earlier this summer after requesting Washington's help in removing the names of people who might be endangered if their identities were revealed in the library of Afghan war logs, the daily said.
The Pentagon has described the website's claim as fiction, saying the department was never approached by WikiLeaks about such a security vetting.
"That is absolutely false," said Marine Colonel David Lapan, a senior DOD spokesman.
"The contact that the White House had in the days before the release came from the news organisations - The New York Times and the others - for comment and to ask questions for their stories. There was no discussion of showing us documents or having somebody review them to be certain that names were not being released," the spokesman said.
Asked if the Pentagon would now consider helping WikiLeaks vet the remaining 15,000 documents to protect innocent Afghan civilians and others, Lapan said the question was under review.