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Pentagon Demands WikiLeaks Return Stolen Documents

The Pentagon is demanding that the website WikiLeaks immediately return tens of thousands of secret documents on the war in Afghanistan published last month, along with others the site's owners say they are preparing to put out.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell Thursday called on WikiLeaks to return all versions of the classified documents, and permanently delete them from its computers and records.

Morrell said the website has a chance to do what he calls the right thing and not exacerbate the damage that has already been done.

But the spokesman said Pentagon officials are not very confident that WikiLeaks will have a change of heart.

He said WikiLeaks has shown no sign so far of realizing the seriousness of the situation, including the lives it has endangered and operations that may have been undermined.

Military officials suspect a U.S. soldier gave the documents to WikiLeaks.

The papers describe problems in the war in Afghanistan and include the names of Afghan citizens who helped U.S. forces.

Morrell did not say what moves the Pentagon may take to compel WikiLeaks to return the documents. But he said the FBI and U.S. Justice Department are involved in the investigation.

The spokesman said the Pentagon has a team of 80 intelligence experts working around the clock studying the leaked documents. He also said steps are being taken to protect the Afghan citizens named in the papers.