The United States Air Force is preventing personnel from accessing the Web sites of major world media outlets that have published U.S. embassy cables leaked on the WikiLeaks website, according to a range of published reports.
When personnel try to access the websites of the New York Times, the United Kingdom's Guardian, Spain's El Pais, France's Le Monde, the German magazine Der Spiegel, and other sites that posted the entire set of documents, they instead get a screen that says, "Access Denied: Internet usage is logged and monitored."
Published reports in newspapers including the Times and the Wall Street Journal cited internal Air Force sources who encountered the screen.
Reports said that the 24th Air Force, which manages computer networks for the service, ordered the site blocking. None of the other U.S. armed services -- the Army, Navy, or Marines -- have cut off the sites, nor was the move ordered by the Department of Defense, according to Pentagon and other sources, reports said.
Several weeks ago, WikiLeaks posted 250,000 confidential diplomatic cables from a U.S. embassy, causing a worldwide furor. Some media outlets posted the documents in full, while some posted only excerpts.
Sources said that only sites that posted the cables in their entirety are being blocked by the Air Force, according to published reports.
The documents were allegedly leaked by Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, who was arrested by the Pentagon in June for possibly leaking other classified files to the site.
After going into hiding for a time amid death threats, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange currently is being held in a London prison on charges that don't involve the whistleblower site. He is wanted in Sweden and faces extradition to that country for a variety of sexual offenses, though he has insisted he's innocent and that the charges are politically motivated.
Even if he is not prosecuted in Sweden, Assange still could face charges of espionage in the United States over the leaked documents, which authorities are said to be considering.
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