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Bildt: No US-Sweden talks over WikiLeaks

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Bildt: No US-Sweden talks over WikiLeaks
15:26 CEST+02:00
Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt has denied that the US government has approached Sweden in connection with the website WikiLeaks and reports that many of the Afghan War Diary documents pass through a Swedish web-host.

"No. We have ongoing discussions with the USA and all those involved in the Afghanistan operation, but not about WikiLeaks as far as I know," the foreign minister told Sveriges Television (SVT) news programme Rapport.

Chris Dunnet, public affairs spokesperson at the US embassy in Stockholm, confirmed to The Local on Friday that the embassy has "received no instructions to engage with Swedish officials over the WikiLeaks story".

"I can't speculate as to what the other organs of the US government are doing," Dunnet told The Local.

WikiLeaks has become a thorn in the US government side in recent months after the release in April of film footage from an incident in which Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists, were alleged to have been killed by US forces.

The release of over 91,000 classified documents, the so-called Afghan War Diary, on July 25th has led to US military and government officials to argue that the organization is a danger to the Afghanistan mission and to the safety of US troops and Afghan civilians.

On Thursday afternoon Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morell called on WikiLeaks to return all of the classified documents in their possession and permanently delete them from the website.

"If doing the right thing is not good enough for them them we will figure out other alternatives we have to compel them to do the right thing," Morell said, but did not specify what these alternatives may be.

While WikiLeaks holds copies of its documents at several locations across the world many of them pass through Sweden as the site is hosted by Swedish hosting and internet service provider PRQ (PeRiquito) with a base just outside Stockholm.

Mikael Viborg, a PRQ board member, has said that no contact has been made with the firm over WikiLeaks.

"No one has asked us to close the WikiLeaks website," Viborg said according to several media on Friday.

PRQ's business model is to host any customers regardless of purpose as long as they follow Swedish law. Viborg told the Dagens Nyheter daily on Friday that while he and PRQ make no "moral judgement" over what WikiLeaks or any other of its customers publish, he considers their type of operation "to be important for a democracy to be able to function."

The firm's offices were raided by Swedish police in May 2006 in connection with their role as web hosts of the popular filesharing website The Pirate Bay, whose founders Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm Varg started PRQ in 2004 but have since sold the firm.

WikiLeaks has confirmed that it holds a further 15,000 documents that it is checking prior to a possible release and according to the US-based website Democracynow.org the US justice department is investigating whether the site and its founder Julian Assange could be charged with violating the espionage act of 1917.

Congressman Mike Rogers, a member of the house intelligence committee, has furthermore called for the reported source of the Afghan Diary documents, Private First Class Bradley Manning, to be charged with treason - an offence which carries the death penalty.

Assange has meanwhile replied that the statements from several US public figures, should be seen as "balloons" to test the waters of public opinion and urged politicians and the US public to react.

"If the political will in the US does not shoot down these balloons then we could see a shift in finding this behaviour or other behaviour acceptable. People have to shoot those statements down otherwise they will become the new norm," the Australian said to Democracynow.org.

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