The founder of WikiLeaks is urging U.S. authorities to investigate possible rights abuses committed by troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, instead of spending time and money pursuing those who have leaked information to his group.
Australian-born Julian Assange said Thursday the U.S. still hasn't opened any probes into the incidents detailed in a series of secret documents published by WikiLeaks since July.
Assange contrasted this with Britain and Denmark, whose governments have already taken steps to examine possible wrongdoing from the leaked U.S. war logs, he said.
"It is time the United States opened up instead of covering up," he told reporters near the UN's European headquarters in Geneva, where on Friday the U.S. will face its first comprehensive human rights review by the global body.
A U.S. Defence Department spokesman dismissed the suggestion that the leaking of the documents should prompt any further investigations into wrongdoing by American troops.
"They're our internal reports," Maj. Chris Perrine said. "The idea that we haven't investigated any of these is false."
In the five years from 2005 to June 2010, military criminal investigators examined some 970 cases related to Afghanistan and Iraq. Eighty-eight of those resulted in "further disciplinary action," Perrine said.
Following the recent publication by WikiLeaks of nearly 400,000 field reports by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, the UN's top human rights official said the U.S. and Iraq should prosecute anyone believed responsible for torture, homicide and other abuses.
WikiLeaks has come under increasing pressure since July, when it first published 77,000 secret U.S. documents on the Afghanistan invasion and occupation.
Assange said his group now devotes 70 per cent of its resources to defending itself from attacks against its collaborators and its financial infrastructure, which he said were "mostly by the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence."
"We have never faced such difficulties as an organization as in the past three months," he said, flanked by two bodyguards.
Assange said future leaks would cover other countries, such as Russia and Lebanon, as well as the United States.