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WikiLeaks says it’s leaking over 500,000 Saudi documents

WikiLeaks says it’s leaking over 500,000 Saudi documents

Many of the 60,000 published files carried green letterhead marked “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” or “Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

By (AP)

Published: Sun 21 Jun 2015, 1:50 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:07 PM

Istanbul - WikiLeaks is in the process of publishing more than 500,000 Saudi diplomatic documents to the Internet, the transparency website said on Friday, a move that echoes its famous release of US State Department cables in 2010.

WikiLeaks said in a statement that it has already posted roughly 60,000 files. Most of them appear to be in Arabic.

There was no immediate way to verify the authenticity of the documents, although WikiLeaks has a long track record of hosting large-scale leaks of government material. Many of the documents carried green letterhead marked “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” or “Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” At least one appeared to be from the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

If genuine, the documents would offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Kingdom. They might also shed light on Riyadh’s longstanding regional rivalry with Iran, its support for Syrian rebels and Egypt’s military-backed government, and its opposition to an emerging international agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Among the most eye-catching items was a document addressed to the interior and justice ministers notifying them that a son of Osama bin Laden had obtained a certificate from the American Embassy in Riyadh “showing death of his father.” The document, dated only by the day and month of the Islamic calendar, said the son hoped to get it certified by the ministry in order to present it to a court in the Saudi city of Jeddah for inheritance purposes.

Several other documents appeared to capture Saudi diplomats discussing the progress of Iranian nuclear talks or touched on the political situation in places such as Syria. Many of those appeared to be the product of mundane administrative work, such as emails about setting up a website or operating an office fax machine.

The AP was not immediately able to reach anyone whose phone numbers or email addresses were published in the various documents, but WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said he was confident that the material published on Friday was genuine.

It is not clear how WikiLeaks got the documents, although in its statement the website referred to a recent electronic attack on the Saudi Foreign Ministry by a group calling itself the Yemen Cyber Army. Hrafnsson declined to elaborate on the statement or say whether the hackers subsequently passed documents on to WikiLeaks.

“As a matter of policy we’re not going to discuss the source of the material,” he said.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

In its statement, WikiLeaks said the release coincided with the three-year anniversary of its founder, Julian Assange, seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about alleged sex crimes. Assange has denied any wrongdoing.

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