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US Investigates WikiLeaks Release of Classified Documents

Attorney General Eric Holder answers a question about WikiLeaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, 29 Nov 2010

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the United States is carrying out a criminal investigation into the release of hundreds of thousands of classified documents by WikiLeaks and will prosecute anyone found to have violated U.S. laws.

Attorney General Holder condemned the leaks of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, saying it jeopardizes the nation's security.

"It puts at risk our national security, but in a more concrete way it puts at risk individuals who are serving this country in a variety of capacities, either as diplomats, as intelligence assets. It puts at risk the relationships that we have with important allies around the world," said Holder.

The documents reveal details of candid assessments made by U.S. diplomats of world leaders and sensitive events, as well as controversial remarks made behind closed doors.

Holder says both the Justice Department and the Pentagon are investigating the leaks.

"We have an active, ongoing, criminal investigation with regard to this matter. We are not in a position as yet to announce the result of that investigation, but the investigation is ongoing," Holder added.

WikiLeaks has not revealed how it obtained the documents. A U.S. Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, was arrested earlier this year for allegedly leaking video of a helicopter strike in Iraq and classified diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is a highly secretive Australian citizen and former computer hacker.

Attorney General Holder declined to identify the targets of the probe, but indicated WikiLeaks and individuals possibly involved in obtaining the classified documents are being investigated.

"To the extent that we can find anybody who was involved in the breaking of American law and who has put at risk the assets and the people that I have described, they will be held responsible. They will be held accountable," said Holder. "To the extent there are gaps in our laws, we will move to close those gaps, which is not to say - which is not to say that anybody at this point, because of their citizenship or their residence, is not a target or a subject of an investigation that is ongoing."

Earlier this year, WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.