The whistle blowing site WikiLeaks has published Saudi government data that lists gay people, people living with HIV, sick children, rape victims and mental health patients.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most repressive countries and LGBT rights simply do not exist there. Gay people can face punishments ranging from a fine or flogging or worse, death.
The data 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.
Imagine the risks the exposed teenage rape victims and gay people face in the ultraconservative country.
"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 is supposed to bring censored or restricted material "involving war, spying and corruption" into the public eye — personal information, especially that can cause personal harm, should not be a part of their scheme of things.
Even if they have access to it, releasing it and exposing so many people is ridiculously irresponsible of them.
"This has nothing to do with politics or corruption," said Dr. Nayef al-Fayez, a consultant in the Jordanian capital of Amman who confirmed that a brain cancer patient of his was among those whose details were published to the web. Dr. Adnan Salhab, a retired practitioner in Jordan who also had a patient named in the files, expressed anger when shown the document.
"This is illegal what has happened," he said in a telephone interview. "It is illegal!"
A disabled woman, who'd secretly gone into debt to support a sick relative, said she was devastated as she'd kept her plight from members of her own family.
"This is a disaster," she said. "What if my brothers, neighbors, people I know or even don't know have seen it? What is the use of publishing my story?"
@wikileaks has published the personal information/data about gay ppl, HIV+ people and other things. They're in Saudi Arabia. Death sentence— Kalvin Chapman (@KalvinChapman) August 23, 2016
WikiLeaks has gone too far with this latest leak. Releasing information that will get people killed goes beyond... https://t.co/EdCKbA6hg5— PA Equality Project (@PAEqPro) August 23, 2016
For Saudi Arabia, gay rights are “counter to Islamic law.” The country even insisted that the U.N. remove them from the organization’s Global Goals.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir is said to have told the UN General Assembly that “mentioning sex in the text, to us, means exactly male and female. Mentioning family means consisting of a married man and woman.”
Homosexuality is illegal under Sharia law that is practiced in Saudi Arabia and punishments for those engaging in same-sex relationships include execution, chemical castration and imprisonment.
A recently published report indicated that people who come out online in Saudi Arabia could face the death penalty.
This isn’t the first time that Wikileaks has breached privacy risked lives. Just a few days after the failed military coup attempt in Turkey and the resulting mass incarcerations and terminations all across the country, WikiLeaks dumped a searchable collection of 294,548 emails on the internet together with personal information including addresses and phone numbers of millions of Turkish citizens, particularly female voters.