‘Erratic and secretive dictatorship’: WikiLeaks releases thousands of ‘top secret’ Saudi govt docs

Reuters / Tim Chong
WikiLeaks has begun publishing around half a million ‘Saudi Cables’ documents, which include communiques from the Saudi Foreign Ministry, as well as ‘top secret’ reports from the kingdom’s intelligence agency and Ministry of Interior.

On Friday, the whistleblowing website released the first tranche of around 70,000 documents.

According to the group’s statement, the ‘Saudi cables’ provide an insight into the kingdom’s interior and foreign policies explaining “how it has managed its alliances and consolidated its position as a regional Middle East superpower, including through bribing and co-opting key individuals and institutions.”

The leaked documents also illustrate a “highly centralized bureaucratic structure” where even the simplest issues are addressed by the most senior officials, it said.

Commenting on the release, Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder said the documents “lift the lid on an increasingly erratic and secretive dictatorship that has not only celebrated its 100th beheading this year, but which has also become a menace to its neighbors and itself."

The documents have been published as scanned images of Arabic text which have been made searchable through the WikiLeaks search engine.

The ultraconservative kingdom has also been widely criticized by the international community for its disreputable human rights record. On Monday Saudi Arabia performed its 100th public execution of the year. The figure surpasses the 87 recorded by AFP in 2014, however is below the highest figure of 192, recorded by the human rights group Amnesty International in 1995.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s second largest oil producer and largest exporter, is a major player in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that controls oil production and prices on the global market.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a hereditary dictatorship bordering the Persian Gulf. Despite the Kingdom’s infamous human rights record, Saudi Arabia remains a top-tier ally of the United States and the United Kingdom in the Middle East, largely owing to its globally unrivalled oil reserves,” Wikileaks said.

The Kingdom frequently tops the list of oil-producing countries, which has given the Kingdom disproportionate influence in international affairs. Each year it pushes billions of petro-dollars into the pockets of UK banks and US arms companies.”

READ MORE: Yemeni group hacks 3,000 Saudi govt computers to reveal top secret docs – report

The US has supported the Saudi-led airstrikes against Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen, providing intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, advisory and logistical support to the military intervention.

The WikiLeaks publication comes after a group calling itself the Yemeni Cyber Army allegedly hacked over 3,000 computers and servers belonging to Saudi Foreign, Interior and Defense Ministries in May. The hackers released only a small “sample” portion of the documents on file-sharing sites which soon fell under censorship.

The hacker group came to be known for the first time after it attacked the pro-Saudi news website, AlHayat in April protesting against what it called the Saudi “invasion” of Yemen. Since March, the Sunni-ruled Kingdom has led airstrikes against the Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen, after they took control of its capital, Sanaa, ousting Sunni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who then fled to Saudi Arabia. According to UN estimates, more than 2,600 people have been killed since the coalition began military operations in March.

WikiLeaks says its full trove contains thousands of times the number of documents released by the Yemeni Cyber Army.