PA Negotiator: U.S., British Citizens Are Responsible for Leaking Palestine Papers

Erekat claims that a U.S. citizen, who currently works for Al-Jazeera, and a British citizen, a former MI6 and EU official, leaked the secret Mideast documents.

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Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Wednesday in an interview with the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television that a U.S. citizen, who worked in the U.S. State Department, and a British citizen, a former MI6 and EU official, are the ones responsible for leaking the so-called 'Palestine papers.'

Erekat said the secret Mideast documents were leaked by U.S. citizen Clayton Swisher, who currently works at Al-Jazeera as a reporter, and used to serve as a bodyguard in the U.S. State Department during the Clinton administration.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas and negotiator Saeb Erekat in Cairo on February 6, 2010.Credit: AP

The second person Erekat blamed for the leak is British citizen Alastair Crooke, who was a ranking figure in the British intelligence (MI6) as well as an adviser to the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy. Crooke is considered close to officials in Hamas.

Al-Jazeera recently began leaking 1,600 secret documents on Middle East negotiations, which reveal many significant concessions made by the Palestinian Authority in the past years, mostly documents signed by Erekat.

In contrast to earlier publications in the Palestinian media, Erekat told Haaretz that Swisher had never worked in his office, and said that if the documents were leaked from his office then he would take responsibility for them. Meanwhile, he told Haaretz that he has demanded that the U.S. State Department investigate Swisher to find out the source of the leak.

On Tuesday, Erekat accused Al Jazeera television of putting his life in danger with "a vicious smear campaign" alleging he made major concessions in peace talks with Israel.

Erekat said the Qatar-based network had misrepresented quotes and made up others in covering "The Palestine Papers."

"What Al Jazeera people are doing is asking Palestinians to shoot me, physically. That's what they are doing. They are saying: 'You are guilty and thus you should be executed'," said Erekat, for years a central figure in the peace talks.

"Speaking for me and my family, they are inciting against our lives," he told Reuters in an interview at his office in the West Bank city of Jericho.



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