The Defense Department is demanding that online whistle-blower WikiLeaks turn over its entire trove of classified U.S. government documents, an appeal aimed at preventing the release of 15,000 secret papers it claims to hold.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Thursday that the government's demand also covers data in a massive encrypted file posted by the website.
Morrell says the government is trying to stop any more classified documents from being released. It's also seeking to have WikiLeaks delete the classified material from its website and records.
"We are asking them to do the right thing," Morrell said. "We are asking them to return stolen property and to no longer publish stolen property, that's what we're asking."
The Wikileaks website constitutes a "brazen solicitation to US government officials, including our military, to break the law," Morrell said. He added that the site's assertion that handing over confidential material to the site is safe, easy and protected by the law is false and misleading.
Last month the WikiLeaks website posted nearly 77,000 classified military and other documents, mostly raw intelligence reports from Afghanistan.
Morrell said the Pentagon has a team of 80 people working around the clock going through the documents released.