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UPDATE 1-Active US criminal probe into WikiLeaks release

(Adds quotes, details, background)

WASHINGTON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - U.S. authorities are conducting an intensive criminal investigation into the release of thousands of classified U.S. documents by WikiLeaks, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday.

“There is an active, ongoing criminal investigation that we’re conducting with the Department of Defense,” Holder said at a news conference. “We are not in a position as yet to announce the result of that investigation.”

He said Sunday’s leak of the classified documents, mostly cables from U.S. embassies around the world, put at risk U.S. diplomats or other individuals assisting the United States.

“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,” Holder said.

He said that if there are gaps in U.S. law over the disclosure of classified information, the Obama administration would work with Congress to close them.

WikiLeaks released 400,000 secret U.S. files on the Iraq war in October and tens of thousands of secret U.S. military documents on the war in Afghanistan in July.

No federal charges have been filed in the WikiLeaks case. The investigation so far has focused on Bradley Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst in Iraq.

Manning is under arrest by the U.S. military and charged with leaking a classified video showing a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Iraq, including two Reuters journalists.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, has said the U.S. investigation is also looking into WikiLeaks itself. Holder made it clear that just because he was a foreigner living outside the United States, he was not immune from prosecution.

“We will move to close those gaps (in U.S. law), 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 subject of an investigation that’s ongoing,” Holder said. (Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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