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WikiLeaks Reveals the #SaudiCables

A leaked cable that shows the Saudi government paid MTV, one of the main TV stations in Lebanon $5 million, although it had asked for $20 million. Document from WikiLeaks

A leaked cable that shows the Saudi government paid MTV, one of the main TV stations in Lebanon $5 million, although it had asked for $20 million. Document from WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks has started publishing more than half a million leaked documents from Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A total of 61,000 Arabic-language documents, which offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Saudi corridors of power, are already online.

The information dump reveal secret communications from Saudi embassies, as well as “top secret” reports from other Saudi state institutions, including the Ministry of Interior and the Kingdom's General Intelligence Services. More are set to be published in the coming weeks, according to a press release released by the whistleblowing site.

“The Saudi Cables lift the lid on a[n] 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,” Julian Assange, WikiLeaks publisher, said, according to the press release.

With its rich oil reserves, Saudi Arabia has considerable sway in the Middle East and is an important ally for the West in the region, despite the country's poor human rights record. Some of the documents detail how the Saudi government advised the Bahraini government when it was faced with a popular uprising in 2011.

Some of the leaked documentsoffer a peek into Saudi Arabia's obsession with media coverage of the Bahraini uprising and the role it played in shaping propaganda.

Others go into Saudi Arabia's policy of “buying silence” in the region's media. Doc83763 shows that the Saudi government paid MTV, one of the main TV stations in Lebanon, $5 million. Politicians from that country have also requested financing from Saudi Arabia, according to the leaks.

Of the first 60,000 documents leaked, around 1,500 reference Iran or Iranian in English and Arabic, highlighting Saudi Arabia's preoccupation with their regional rival.

The information in the leaked cables range from issues with visas being granted by the absolute monarchy to female singers to regional and international policies. Reading the leaks you can reach several conclusions on how the absolute monarchy manages its foreign policy.

The Saudi government has warned its citizens to ignore the cache. The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted:

Dear Aware Citizen,

Don't spread any documents that may be forged and will help the enemies of the state achieve their goals

Dear Aware Citizen,

Avoid entering any websites with the aim of accessing documents or leaked information, which may be fabricated, with the goal of harming national security.

Stay with Global Voices for coverage of the leaked documents, or visit Global Voices Checkdesk live blog for updates.

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