LONDON, July 28, 2010 (AFP) - The leak by the WikiLeaks website of 90,000 secret documents on the war in Afghanistan has put hundreds of Afghan lives at risk because the files identify informants working with NATO forces, the Times reported Wednesday.
The homepage of the WikiLeaks website is seen on a computer after leaked classified military documents were posted to it July 26, 2010 in Miami, Florida. AFP
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said earlier this week that all the documents released through his organization had been checked for named informants and that 15,000 such documents had been held back.
But The Times reported that after just two hours of combing through the documents it was able to find the names of dozens of Afghans said to have provided detailed intelligence to US forces.
Experts warned that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda would already be using the information to identify and target informers in the war zone.
The Times cited one 2008 document that included a detailed interview with a Taliban fighter considering defection.
The man, who names local Taliban commanders and talks about other potential defectors, is identified by name, along with his father's name and village.
In another case from 2007, a senior official accuses named figures in the Afghan government of corruption.
"The leaks certainly have put in real risk and danger the lives and integrity of many Afghans," a senior official at the Afghan foreign ministry, who declined to be named told The Times.
"The US is both morally and legally responsible for any harm that the leaks might cause to the individuals, particularly those who have been named. It will further limit the US/international access to the uncensored views of Afghans," the Afghan official told the newspaper.
US officials have said they were working to see if the mass document release late Sunday could jeopardize operational security and US national security or the endanger lives of informants in Afghanistan.