Whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks is under fire for publishing Saudi government data that exposes the private lives of Saudi people, including gay men, in Saudi Arabia, leaving them at risk of attack.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most repressive countries when it comes to LGBT rights, and gay people can face punishments ranging from a fine or flogging up to the death penalty.
Wikileaks is known for routinely publishing illicitly-obtained government data from around the world, recently publishing emails illegally hacked from the servers of the US Democratic National Convention. That attack was thought to have been perpetrated by Russian-backed hackers.
The organisation has now been accused of carelessly and recklessly publishing unredacted data from Saudi Arabia in a separate mass info dump, including the personal details of thousands of Saudi people. Among the thousands of documents, the data includes personal information identifying at least one man with a gay sex conviction, as well as a number of rape victims and people living with HIV. It also makes public the identity of domestic workers who had been tortured or sexually abused by their employers, even listing people’s passport numbers, alongside their full names. One of the cables includes private details of a Saudi man detained for ‘sexual deviation’ – the charge for homosexuality – raising fears of reprisals or ‘vigilante’ attacks.
A disabled woman whose private debt information was released in the data dump told Associated Press: “This is a disaster. What if my brothers, neighbours, people I know or even don’t know have seen it? What is the use of publishing my story?”
A doctor whose patients’ data was released branded the leak “illegal”.
Embattled WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who has spent years hiding in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy, said previously: “The Saudi Cables 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 neighbours and itself.”