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WikiLeaks has started releasing tons of classified Saudi documents

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Classified documents from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry were published to the WikiLeaks website on Friday, with the 61,000 documents that have been leaked so far being just a fraction of what WikiLeaks has at its disposal. The organization claims to have somewhere around half a million documents at the moment, all of which will be published on the WikiLeaks website over the next few weeks.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, WikiLeaks is a non-profit organization that was formed almost a decade ago by an Australian Internet activist known as Julian Assange. The organization specializes in the collection of secret information, the kind which governments don’t want you to see, from anonymous sources, most of which is published to the official WikiLeaks website for the world to see.

The authenticity of these documents hasn’t been verified and the Saudi Arabian government has claimed that they’re fake, but considering how embarrassing the content of the documents is for Saudi Arabia and many of the surrounding nations, it’s obvious that the country would try to dismiss the leaks as being fake. The government has even urged its citizens not to share any of the documents, with Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Osama Naqli going so far as to warn the Saudi people not to “allow enemies of the state to achieve their intentions in regards to exchanging or publishing any documents” and said “many of them had been fabricated in a very obvious manner.”

As one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies with notoriously harsh punishments for activists and journalists that publish articles which could be seen as critical to the ruling Al Saud dynasty, it’s no surprise that the Saudi Arabian government has promised to root out the source of these leaks and prosecute them severely. Ever since the Arab uprisings of 2011, the nation has been especially intolerant of dissent out of fear that the instability and turmoil that continues to plague many of the surrounding nations will make its way to Saudi Arabia.

The nation’s blatant disregard for freedom of speech and many other human rights, as well as its attempts to influence the Middle East region, is what prompted WikiLeaks to publish these documents. Julian Assange wrote in a statement that was released alongside the initial batch of leaked documents that WikiLeaks has decided to “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.”

The information contained in the documents themselves aren’t actually that surprising, things like funding various militant groups and spying on the United States, but much of the information is still embarrassing to the ruling government and many of the surrounding governments. What’s clear from the documents is that Saudi Arabia’s clients and neighboring countries love to ask the wealthy nation for money, and Saudi Arabia is more than happy to oblige in many cases. The documents also give us an unprecedented look at the kingdom and how it interacts with these groups.

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