News & Politics

Report: WikiLeaks Exposed Private Information of Rape Victims, Gays, Sick Children

WikiLeaks has exposed the private information of rape victims, mental health patients, and even sick children in its data dumps, according to a report by the Associated Press. The sensitive data of hundreds of innocent victims was posted on the internet by the radical “transparency” group founded by Julian Assange.

The group responsible for releasing data hacked from the Democratic National Committee, the National Security Agency, and the Saudi foreign ministry has also made public the medical files and sensitive family or financial records of scores of ordinary citizens, according to the report.

“In two particularly egregious cases, WikiLeaks named teenage rape victims,” the AP report says. “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.”

A Saudi man told the AP he was shocked that details of a paternity suit with a former partner were posted to the web. He said that such a disclosure “could destroy people.”

The AP also found leaked records relating to marriages, divorces, missing children, elopements and custody battles. “Many are very personal, like the marital certificates that reveal whether the bride was a virgin,” they stated. “Others deal with Saudis who are deeply in debt, including one man who says his wife stole his money. One divorce document details a male partner’s infertility. Others identify the partners of women suffering from sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and Hepatitis C.”

Ordinary Americans could also be at risk. According to the AP analysis, last month WikiLeaks published more than two dozen Social Security number and credit cards they had grabbed during the DNC website hack. At least two were targeted by identity thieves following the leak.

Assange, who has been staying in Ecuador’s embassy in London for the past four years, initially created WikiLeaks as a platform for curating material that would ensure public transparency. According to the group’s website they specialize “in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption.” 

In 2010 Assange explained that he took privacy concerns very seriously. “We have a harm minimization policy,” he said. “There are legitimate secrets. Your records with your doctor, that’s a legitimate secret.”

But eventually the massive data dumps made the vetting process too time-consuming and WikiLeaks backed away from the practice of redacting sensitive information. And now it seems they’ve completely reversed their privacy policy. They argued on Twitter in 2013 that withholding any data at all “legitimizes the false propaganda of ‘information is dangerous.'”

Next page: See WikiLeaks’ response to the AP report:

On Tuesday the group attempted to debunk the AP report with a series of tweets:

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly is scheduled to interview Assange on Wednesday.