U.S. Air Force blocks NYT, Guardian over WikiLeaks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force has blocked employees from visiting media websites carrying leaked WikiLeaks documents, including The New York Times and the Guardian, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Major Toni Tones, a spokeswoman at Air Force Space Command in Colorado, said the command had blocked employees whose computers are connected to the Air Force network from accessing at least 25 websites that have posted WikiLeaks documents.

The Air Force “routinely blocks Air Force network access to websites hosting inappropriate materials or malware (malicious software) and this includes any website that hosts classified materials and those that are released by WikiLeaks,” she said.

The Air Force move comes as the U.S. government seeks to minimize the damage from WikiLeaks’ release of 250,000 State Department cables through media outlets and on its own website.

The cables released last month, which reveal blunt, sometimes derisive depictions of foreign governments and leaders, have been an embarrassment for Washington.

Past releases this year by WikiLeaks contained sensitive information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Washington said compromised national security and put people at risk.

The Pentagon had already prohibited its employees from viewing WikiLeaks documents online, no matter how widely they are published, but it has not blocked access to websites that post leaked cables.

Pentagon officials have instructed employees they “shouldn’t access the WikiLeaks site because the information there is still considered classified,” said Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.

Reporting by Missy Ryan; Editing by Doina Chiacu