Washington: The White House ordered government agencies to block employees from accessing WikiLeaks from official computers, saying the diplomatic cables leaked by the website remain classified documents.
"The recent disclosure of US government documents by WikiLeaks has resulted in damage to our national security," the White House`s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a message to all federal agencies.
It reminded them that "each federal employee and contractor is obligated to protect classified information" and said the whistle-blower website`s public release of US diplomatic cables did not mean they had been declassified.
"Unauthorised disclosures of classified documents (whether in print, on a blog or on websites) do not alter the documents` classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents," the OMB said.
"To the contrary, classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors, until it is declassified by an appropriate US government authority."
The Library of Congress was among the institutions that blocked access to WikiLeaks, prompting the website to say on its Twitter feed the move signalled "end times" for the First Amendment of the US Constitution guaranteeing free speech.
In a post on the Library of Congress blog, communications director Matt Raymond confirmed that access to WikiLeaks was being blocked and rejected accusations of censorship.
"The Library decided to block WikiLeaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information," Raymond said.
"In other words, the site is being blocked not out of censorship, but because providing the information that is there is illegal.”
"The Library is prohibited both by federal law and our own regulations from providing public access to classified information," he added.