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Wikileaks falls out with human rights groups

Exposing Taliban informants not cool, says Amnesty

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Wikileaks faces criticism from human rights groups over its publishing of the names of intelligence sources in Afghanistan.

Organisations including Amnesty International wrote to the site's spokesman Julian Assange urging better redaction of Secret files, both already public and planned to be released, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"We have seen the negative, sometimes deadly ramifications for those Afghans identified as working for or sympathising with international forces," the groups wrote.

"We strongly urge your volunteers and staff to analyse all documents to ensure that those containing identifying information are taken down or redacted."

The email to Assange was co-signed by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, Open Society Institute, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the International Crisis Group.

Wikileaks has so far released 76,000 intelligence reports from a cache of 92,000. On publication Assange said Wikileaks' staff and volunteers had scoured the documents to protect Afghan sources, but journalists quickly found dozens of names had been exposed.

Assange reportedly responded by asking the groups what they would do to help. An Amnesty offical suggested a conference call to discuss collaboration, but was rebuffed.

"I'm very busy and have no time to deal with people who prefer to do nothing but cover their asses. If Amnesty does nothing I shall issue a press release highlighting its refusal," Assange reportedly wrote.

The exchange will harden criticism of Assange as arrogant by those both for and against the war in Afghanistan. Amnesty has previously been a supporter of Wikileaks' campaign for government transparency, last year presenting Assange with its media award for publishing documents related to assassinations in Kenya.

Following the exchange, yesterday a message was posted on Wikileaks' Twitter feed saying the site, which claims it has 800 volunteers, needs $700,000 to conduct a "harm-minimization review". A later post added: "Pentagon wants to bankrupt us by refusing to assist review. Media won't take responsibility. Amnesty won't. What to do?"

Assange has said the final 15,000 intelligence reports will be published after information that could endanger civilians has been redacted.

On Friday the Pentagon flatly denied reports that Wikileaks had sought government help redacting the initial tranche of 76,000 documents prior to publication. Over the weekend the site scheduled and quickly cancelled a press conference to respond in London yesterday, citing logistical difficulties. ®

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