Published: Dec 16, 2010 5:39 PM EST
Updated: Dec 16, 2010 2:43 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - The man who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War is defending the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. Daniel Ellsberg also praised an Army private, Bradley Manning, suspected of giving WikiLeaks thousands of sensitive U.S. documents.

Ellsberg told a Washington news conference the men were no more deserving of prosecution than the New York Times, which published the Pentagon Papers in 1971, or Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward for helping uncover the Watergate conspiracy.

The federal government is looking at whether it can prosecute Assange for making public a trove of secret U.S. diplomatic cables and reports from the Iraq war. Manning is being held in a military brig in Virginia on suspicion of copying and leaking secrets.

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