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    Leak of Afghan war files may harm U.S.-led campaign - Robert Gates

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    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the publication of U.S. secret documents on the war in Afghanistan may lead to serious consequences for NATO troops and their Afghan assets.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the publication of U.S. secret documents on the war in Afghanistan may lead to serious consequences for NATO troops and their Afghan assets.

    On Sunday, whistleblowing website Wikileaks released some 91,000 U.S. military secret files on the war in Afghanistan dating from September 2004 to December 2009.

    "The battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies, and Afghan partners and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world," Gates told reporters on Thursday.

    The documents contain a massive amount of classified data, from reports on the killings of civilians and lists of names of Afghan informers helping NATO troops, to reports that Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency is helping the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    These documents were also given to a number of world acknowledged publications, such as the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai denounced on Thursday leaking the names of Afghan informants, saying "their lives will be in danger now."

    The main suspect in the leak of the documents is jailed U.S. Private Bradley Manning, who had top-secret clearance as an intelligence analyst for the Army when he was stationed in Iraq.

    Pentagon investigators believe that Manning has accessed a worldwide military classified Internet and e-mail system to download the documents.

    Manning, 22, was charged in June with several violations of the U.S. Criminal Code for allegedly transferring classified data without authorization.

    Earlier this year, the Wikileaks website posted a video showing U.S. troops firing repeatedly on a group of men, some of whom were unarmed, walking down a Baghdad street.

    The website does not have a central office or any paid staff and its operations are run only by a small dedicated team and some 800 volunteers.

    Wikileaks' founder, Australian activist Julian Assange, has no home address but he often pops up in Sweden and Iceland, where Internet anonymity is protected by laws. He is being hunted by Pentagon investigators and as is suspected of releasing confidential U.S. State Department documents.

    WASHINGTON, July 30 (RIA Novosti)

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