WikiLeaks publishes medical files of rape victims, mental health patients and man arrested for homosexuality

Hundreds of people have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted online

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 24 August 2016 08:14 BST
A selection of private medical files published by transparency website WikiLeaks
A selection of private medical files published by transparency website WikiLeaks (AP)

Wikileaks has been criticised for publishing data from the Saudi Arabian government including the personal information of hundreds of ordinary people, including rape victims and mental health patients.

Among thousands of documents made public by Wikileaks, the site named at least two teenage rape victims.

In another case, it published the name of a Saudi citizen arrested for being gay. Homosexuality can lead to a prison sentence or even death in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom.

"They published everything: my phone, address, name, details," one Saudi man told AP, saying he was bewildered WikiLeaks had revealed the details of a paternity dispute with a former partner.

"If the family of my wife saw this ... Publishing personal stuff like that could destroy people."

Wikileaks released tens of thousands of confidential and top secret Saudi Arabian government documents to "lift the lid on a increasingly erratic and secretive dictatorship", WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said. The regime has "not only celebrated its 100th beheading this year," he added, but has "also become a menace to its neighbours and itself".

The group has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens, while many hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted online.

Three cables identified domestic workers who'd been tortured or sexually abused by their employers, giving the women's full names and passport numbers.

In a series of tweets, WikiLeaks dismissed the charge it had disclosed the identity of gay people, saying: "No, WikiLeaks did not disclose 'gays' to the Saudi govt. Data if from govt & not leaked by us. Story from 2015. Re-run now due to election."

"This has nothing to do with politics or corruption," Doctor Nayef al-Fayez, a consultant in the Jordanian capital of Amman, told AP. He confirmed that a brain cancer patient of his was among those whose details were published to the web.

Doctor Adnan Salhab, a retired practitioner in Jordan who had a patient named in the files, reportedly expressed outrage when he saw the documents.

"This is illegal what has happened," he said. "It is illegal!"

Thousands of people share cartoon showing how ridiculous Saudi laws are for women

Mr Assange insists WikiLeaks has a system in place to keep ordinary people's information safe.

"We have a harm minimization policy," the Australian told an audience in Oxford, England, in July of 2010. "There are legitimate secrets. Your records with your doctor, that's a legitimate secret."

Mr Assange initially leaned on cooperating journalists, who flagged sensitive material to WikiLeaks which then held them back for closer scrutiny. But he was impatient with the process, describing it as time-consuming and expensive.

"We can't sit on material like this for three years with one person to go through the whole lot, line-by-line, to redact," he told London's Frontline Club the month after his talk in Oxford. "We have to take the best road that we can."

Additional reporting by AP

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