Amnesty: Wikileaks Afghan war documents have 'deadly ramifications'

Serious ethical questions have arisen over Wikileaks release of thousands of documents relating to the Afghan war.

It emerged yesterday that Amnesty International and four other human rights groups have written to the organisation highlighting a series of concerns.

The Times reported last month that it believed the Wikileaks files put Afghan lives at risk by naming those who have worked with American forces.

Now the five human rights groups have said in a letter to Wikileaks:

“We have seen the negative, sometimes deadly ramifications for those Afghans identified as working for or sympathizing with international forces. We strongly urge your volunteers and staff to analyze all documents to ensure that those containing identifying information are taken down or redacted.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, this was the response of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange:

“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.”

Erica Gaston, program officer for Open Society Institute’s Afghanistan-Pakistan regional policy initiative, told the Wall Street Journal:

“Our concern was that the Taliban had announced it was going through the data looking for names and that it would begin targeting that. It’s a very real threat that they’re making. They have demonstrated over and over that if they have the name of someone that has in any way been affiliated with the international community, they will find them, they will kill them in most cases.”

The Guardian, one of three news organisations to be given advance sight of the Wikileaks documents, has emphasised that it took care not to publish any information which would endanger lives.

The paper’s editor Alan Rusbridger said his journalists also asked Assange to redact names of individuals from the documents it released.

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