ARAB WORLD: WikiLeaks founder says many top Arab officials have CIA ties
Julian Assange, the founder of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, came out swinging against some high-level Arab officials in an interview with the pan-Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera this week, saying they maintain close ties with the CIA and are spies for the U.S. intelligence agency in their respective countries.
"Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting U.S. embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key U.S. intelligence agency. These officials are spies for the U.S. in their countries," he was quoted in media reports as saying in the interview aired on Wednesday night.
Assange also alleged that a number of Arab countries run special torture centers where U.S. authorities dispatch suspects for "interrogation and torture."
None of this should come as a surprise to increasingly jaded and discontent Arab publics, who often assume that their leaders are nothing more than dupes for foreign powers. The bit about the U.S.-run torture centers in the Arab world is also old news.
The WikiLeaks founder did not disclose the identities of Arab officials with alleged links to the CIA. The interviewer said Assange had previously showed him documents with some of their names, according to the Peninsula, a Qatari daily.
Assange, based in Britain at the moment and fighting a Swedish extradition warrant on two counts of sexual assault, also warned that his website could go all out and publish all documents it has on hand should he be persecuted by authorities.
"If I am killed or detained for a long time, there are 2,000 websites ready to publish the remaining files ... if I am forced we could go to the extreme and expose each and every file that we have access to," the Peninsula quoted him as saying.
If extradited to Sweden, Assange said he believes the authorities there would hand him over to the Americans. He also claimed in Wednesday's interview that the Pentagon has established a special "war room," staffed by more than 100 people whose jobs are to destroy his website.
-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut
Photo: Julian Assange. Credit: Associated Press