Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Private Lives Are Exposed as WikiLeaks Spills Its Secrets

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Private Lives Are Exposed as WikiLeaks Spills Its Secrets

Article excerpt

CAIRO * WikiLeaks' giant data dumps have rattled the National Security Agency, the U.S. Democratic Party, and the Saudi foreign ministry. But its spectacular mass-disclosures have also included the personal information of hundreds of people including sick children, rape victims and mental health patients, The Associated Press has learned.

In the past year alone, the radical transparency group has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens, while many hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted to the web. In two particularly egregious cases, WikiLeaks named teenage rape victims. In a third case, the site published the name of a Saudi citizen arrested for being gay, an extraordinary move given that homosexuality can lead to social ostracism, a prison sentence or even death in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom.

"They published everything: my phone, address, name, details," said a Saudi man who told AP he was bewildered that 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' mass publication of personal data is at odds with the site's claim to have championed privacy even as it laid bare the workings of international statecraft, drawing criticism from longtime allies.

Attempts to reach WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over the past month have been unsuccessful, and the ex-hacker did not reply to written questions. In a series of tweets following the publication of the AP's story, WikiLeaks dismissed the privacy concerns as "recycled news" and said they were "not even worth a headline."

Assange has been holed up for four years in Ecuador's embassy in London, where he sought refuge when Swedish prosecutors sought to question him over sexual assault allegations. He gave no indication Tuesday that the offending material would be taken down.

WikiLeaks' purported mission is to bring censored or restricted material "involving war, spying and corruption" into the public eye, describing the trove amassed thus far as a "giant library of the world's most persecuted documents. …

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