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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says his site helps the public to understand the inner workings of American security forces. Bertil Ericson / SCANPIX/AP

Pentagon to media: Please don't publish WikiLeaks files

The US Department of Defence urges news media not to publish the files about to be unveiled on the whistleblower website.

THE PENTAGON has asked the world’s news media not to publish details of an upcoming treasure trove of documents relating to the Iraq war on the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

A spokesman for the Department of Defence, David Lapan, said news agents were cautioned “not to facilitate the leaking of classified documents with this disreputable organization known as WikiLeaks”.

Publishing the material, he added, would “provide a veneer of legitimacy” to the website. He also urged WikiLeaks to return the 500,000 documents – which it says are stolen – to the American government.

Such stolen documents, he added, should not be given further coverage by media outlets publishing their details.

The statement came after the Pentagon put a 120-member team on standby to review the documents, as it braces itself for the fallout from the leak. The team was preparing for the leak by reviewing over 400,000 documents on Iraq, preparing responses for how the US government is preparing for the publication of the documents within the coming days, though Reuters reported that the government did not expect the leak to actually take place for at least another week.

“We don’t know how these documents might be released, when they might be released and in what number they might be released, so we are preparing for all eventualities,” Lapan said.

The website was offline as of 2pm on Tuesday afternoon, suggesting that the new leak may be published within the coming hours.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has, in the meantime, been busying himself attacking Wired magazine on Twitter and applying (unsuccessfully) for a visa to live in Sweden.