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Report: Afghan leaks dangerously expose informants' identities

The leaking of U.S. intelligence documents have put hundreds of Afghans at risk because the files identify informants working with NATO forces, The Times of London reported.
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The leaking of 90,000 U.S. intelligence documents has put hundreds of Afghan lives at risk because the files identify informants working with NATO forces, The Times of London reported on Wednesday.

In just two hours of searching the WikiLeaks archive, reporters found the names, villages, and fathers' names of dozens of Afghans credited with providing intelligence to U.S. forces, the paper said.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said that all the released reports were checked for named informants and that 15,000 such documents had been held back to protect people.

Despite his claim, The Times of London gave examples of informants named in the released documents.

'[X] said that he would be killed'
The paper, which withheld all details that would identify Afghans, said a Taliban fighter considering defection was named in a 2008 interview. The document reportedly included his village and statements he made about specific commanders and other potential defectors.

"The meeting ended with [X] agreeing to meet with intel personnel from the battalion," the report reads, according the paper. It was not known whether the man subsequently left the Taliban.

In a case from 2007, a middleman and the Taliban commander he spoke to were both named, according to the paper.

"[X] said that he would be killed if he got caught interacting with any coalition forces, which is why he hides when we go into [Y]," the report read, according to The Times.

The paper gave other examples and said that in all cases the dates and precise locations of meetings were included in the reports.

'Real risk'
The WikiLeaks reports posed no immediate threat to U.S. forces, according to the Pentagon. But, experts warned that Afghans had been put at risk.

"It's possible that someone could get killed in the next few days,” Robert Riegle, a former senior intelligence officer, reportedly told the paper.

"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 reportedly told the paper on condition of anonymity.

"The U.S. 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 U.S./international access to the uncensored views of Afghans," he said, according to The Times.

Assange, WikiLeaks' editor-in-chief, claims his organization doesn't know who sent it some 91,000 secret U.S. military documents.

Assange didn't say whether he meant he had no idea who leaked the documents or whether his organization simply could not be sure. But he did say the added layer of secrecy helps protect the site's sources from spy agencies and hostile corporations.

"We never know the source of the leak," he told journalists gathered at London's Frontline Club late Tuesday. "Our whole system is designed such that we don't have to keep that secret."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said a Pentagon investigation will determine whether criminal charges will be filed in the leaking of Afghanistan war secrets. Holder, speaking during a visit Wednesday to Egypt, said the Justice Department is working with the Pentagon-led investigation to determine the source of the leak.

In Baghdad, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters he was "appalled" by the leak.

"There is a real potential threat there to put American lives at risk," he said.