WikiLeaks has revealed secret Saudi Arabian influence in Arabic media and Islamic religious groups in Australia as well as covert monitoring of Saudi students studying at Australian universities.
Well now… Julian Assange is sending naughty leaks from his London hideout. In fact, 61,000 Saudi diplomatic documents have already been released by WikiLeaks which is supposed to be a first instalment of more than half a million secret papers to be leaked in batches during the coming weeks.
WikiLeaks ‘Saudi Cables’ reveal secret Saudi government influence in Australia
“The Saudi Cables lift the lid on an increasingly erratic and secretive dictatorship”: Julian Assange. Photo: AFP
More than 61,000 leaked Saudi diplomatic documents have been released by WikiLeaks in what the international transparency group says will be the first instalment of the publication of more than half a million secret papers in batches over coming weeks.
“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,” WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange said in a statement released on Saturday.
The leaked Saudi government documents include extensive correspondence between the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Kingdom’s embassy in Canberra that reveals sustained Saudi efforts to influence political and religious opinion within Australia’s Arabic and Islamic communities.
The documents include instructions from the Saudi government to its embassy relating to the payment of large subsidies from the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information to prominent Arabic newspapers and media organisations in Australia, with reference made to cheques to the value of $10,000 and $40,000.
The Saudi embassy is also revealed to pay close attention to the political and religious beliefs of Saudi university students studying in Australia with reports sent to the Mabahith, the General Investigation Directorate of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, the Kingdom’s brutal secret police that deals with domestic security and counter-intelligence. The directorate is also revealed to make recommendations in relation to Saudi government funding for building mosques and supporting Islamic community activities in Australia.
The documents show the Sunni kingdom’s strong concern about efforts by Shiite Islamic leaders to engage with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils and the kingdom’s funding of visits to Australia by Sunni Islamic clerics to counter Shiite influence.
WikiLeaks said that the leaked reports of communications between the Saudi government and its embassies across the globe “provide key insights into the kingdom’s operations and 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 documents reveal extensive Saudi efforts to influence and neutralise critical opinion in foreign media, including widespread use of monetary contributions and subsidies.
“Most world governments engage in PR campaigns to fend off criticism and build relations in influential places. Saudi Arabia controls its image by monitoring media and buying loyalties from Australia to Canada and everywhere in between,” WikiLeaks said in a written statement.
WikiLeaks noted that the Saudi Foreign Ministry admitted to a breach of its computer networks last month. The security breach was attributed a group calling itself the Yemeni Cyber Army. Saudi Arabia is currently engaged in military intervention in the Yemeni civil war.
According to WikiLeaks the leaked material comprises hundreds of thousands of pages of scanned images of Arabic text, tens of thousands of text files, spreadsheets and emails which have been placed a searchable database.
The embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not available for comment.