WASHINGTON — The Pentagon asked media organizations yesterday not to publish any classified war files released by the WikiLeaks website as the United States braces for the potential disclosure of hundreds of thousands of secret Iraq war documents.
In July, WikiLeaks obtained and released nearly 77,000 classified military reports from Afghanistan. Now, the Pentagon says the group has as many as 400,000 documents from a military database on operations in Iraq.
WikiLeaks editor in chief Julian Assange downplayed expectations that a leak was imminent. In a Twitter post, Assange said such reports were coming from “a single tabloid blog’’ that had put out a “tremendous amount’’ of false information about his site.
Still, the military says its 120-member task force has been on high alert. The group has been reviewing the documents for weeks to determine what information might be compromised.
Marine Corps Colonel Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that the military isn’t sure whether WikiLeaks has shared the Iraq war logs with any news organizations. But, he said, media should not disseminate the “stolen’’ information even if it’s already posted online by WikiLeaks.
“The concern is that WikiLeaks as an organization should not be made more credible by having credible news organizations facilitate what they’re doing,’’ Lapan said.
In a separate development, Swedish authorities rejected Assange’s request for residency, a potential setback in his efforts to gain protection from Swedish press freedom laws.
Assange also said his company has been cut off by a company that handled many of its donations. He blamed the financial cutoff on the US government, which denied any involvement.
Assange said London-based Moneybookers.com pulled the plug on its relationship with WikiLeaks over the summer, shortly after the website published the leaked documents.