WikiLeaks ridicules 'recycled' AP story alleging data breach of Saudi citizens

© Toru Hanai
WikiLeaks has lashed out at an AP investigation, calling it "ridiculous" and a "re-run," as well as an attack by Hillary Clinton supporters amid the election campaign. The article claims the whistleblowing website publishes private data of innocent people while exposing state secrets.

The report, published earlier Tuesday, accuses WIkiLeaks of causing "collateral damage to the privacy of hundreds of innocent people, including survivors of sexual abuse, sick children, and the mentally ill" in its "global crusade" to expose the secrets of governments across the globe. 

The report claims that in the past year, the whistleblowing website has published medical files belonging to innocent civilians, while others have had sensitive "family, financial or identity records" published.

It particularly notes privacy infringement in Saudi Arabia, claiming that Saudi diplomatic cables published by the website contain at least 124 medical files.

A particular case says the website published the name of a Saudi citizen arrested for being gay in the ultraconservative Muslim country. Homosexuality is seen as a major crime in the kingdom, and is punishable by death. Another case involved a man who had realized that WikiLeaks published details regarding a paternity dispute with a former partner.

"They published everything: my phone, address, name, details," the Saudi Arabian man told AP. "If the family of my wife saw this... publishing personal stuff like that could destroy people."

AP goes on to note that such publishing of personal information goes against WikiLeaks' claim to have championed privacy while revealing secrets. It said its attempts to reach WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange did not succeed, and a list of questions left with the whistleblowing website were not “immediately answered.”

Calling the AP material “false claims,” WikiLeaks told RT that it relates “to a very large archive of documents we published about the Saudi’s involvement in war and extremism 15 months ago,” adding that “there have been no complaints during that time.”

The AP journalist concerned admits that he wrote the story as a result of our recent publications relating to Hillary Clinton. We do not accept the premise of the piece and we have lodged a complaint regarding the journalist’s conduct,” WikiLeaks said.

Assange’s lawyer, Melinda Taylor, has submitted a formal complaint to AP, saying that the article “contained falsehoods and distortions.” She also argued that the journalist who worked on the piece “did not contact WikiLeaks” for comment, despite claiming in the article that he had done so.

Just hours after the AP report was published, WikiLeaks spoke out against the article in a tweet, calling it a "ridiculous re-run" and linking to a previous article  published by AP in 2015.

It goes on to state that the Saudi Arabian government already had the data in question.

WikiLeaks also said that what it called “an attack by AP” comes from the fact that “the US big media” side with Hillary Clinton in the ongoing presidential election campaign and denounced it as a “media standards decay.”

The whistleblowing website also drew attention to the fact that the AP journalist, who wrote the article about WikiLeaks, apparently also supports Hillary Clinton as he promoted the praise for Clinton’s Libya intervention.

While the previous AP article referenced by WikiLeaks did also deal with the Saudi Arabian cables, that story was indeed different.

The previous article failed to mention the private details of innocent civilians and instead spoke of the Saudi government publishing the passport number of US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

It also noted the more humorous side of the Saudi cables, detailing a moment when a Mexican embassy staffer attempted to smuggle booze in the country, and a Chinese diplomat attempting to do the same thing with pork.

But still, it remains apparent that WikiLeaks is unimpressed with the most recent story, accusing AP of simply publishing a repeat.

WikiLeaks has published a total of 122,619 Saudi Arabian cables, disclosing information about the affairs of the country's secretive Arab monarchy.