WikiLeaks Recklessly Outs Gay Saudi Arabians

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Wikileaks founder Julian AssangeWikileaks founder Julian Assange

Hundreds of Saudi Arabian's lives could be at risk after WikiLeaks released personal and classified information about innocent gay people, sexual abuse survivors, sex workers and the mentally ill.

In the repressive country of Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is punishable by death. One man, who escaped the death penalty but was arrested for "sexual deviation," found his name and personal information plastered all over the web for everyone to find.

"They published everything: my phone, address, name, details," the unnamed Saudi man said to The Associated Press. "If the family of my wife saw this ... Publishing personal stuff like that could destroy people."

The massive data dump additionally published hundreds of medical files as well as financial and family records of ordinary citizens. According to Pink News, the leak also named a number of sexual assault survivors and people living with HIV. Domestic workers who have been sexually or physically abused by their employers also found their information on the web. 

For those who want to escape the "vigilante" justice that could now occur, it will be especially difficult. Along with full names and addresses, the leaks also show passport numbers, which could make it difficult for the now-exposed community to leave the country.

Other information -- like marital records which show whether the bride was a virgin on the wedding night and personal financial records -- could have the potential to tear families apart. One partially disabled Saudi woman found that her financial records were plastered on the web. She had secretly gone into debt in order to support an ill relative. 

"This is a disaster," she said to the AP. "What if my brothers, neighbors, people I know or even don't know have seen it? What is the use of publishing my story?"

It is unclear exactly why the information was published in the first place. The transparency news site says in its mission statement it will only release confidential material "involving war, spying and corruption." 

"This has nothing to do with politics or corruption," said Nayef al-Fayez, a doctor whose patients' records were leaked. "This is illegal what has happened. It is illegal!"

 WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has yet to comment on the incident. 

Sources: The Associated Press, Pink News / Photo credit: newsonline/Flickr

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