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Cable sobre la corrupción de la familia del presidente tunecino, Ben Ali

El embajador de EE UU, Robert Godec, narra la corrupción de la familia del presidente tunecino, Ben Ali, y la de su esposa, Leila. Aporta también nuevos datos sobre la caída en desgracia de Suha Arafat, viuda del histórico líder palestino Yasir Arafat

ID: 212425
Date: 2009-06-16 18:45:00
Origin: 09TUNIS372
Source: Embassy Tunis
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Dunno: 07TUNIS1489
Destination: VZCZCXRO0893
PP RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTU #0372/01 1671845
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161845Z JUN 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6374
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TUNIS 000372

NOFORN
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/MAG (NARDI AND HAYES)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/16/2019
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KCOR, SOCI, PREL, TS
SUBJECT: TUNISIAN CRITICIZES REGIME IN FORTHCOMING BOOK;
SHARES ANECDOTE OF BEN ALI CORRUPTION

REF: 07 TUNIS 1489

TUNIS 00000372 001.2 OF 003


Classified By: Ambassador Robert F. Godec for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

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Summary
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1. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX approached Ambassador and Pol/EconCouns
XXXXXXXXXXXX to share with us XXXXXXXXXXXX the Ambassador gave him assurances that we would.
XXXXXXXXXXXX shared a rare first-hand account of
corruption from several years ago in which Ben Ali himself
was described as asking for a 50 percent stake in
XXXXXXXXXXXX private university. XXXXXXXXXXXX

--------------------------------------------- ---------
XXXXXXXXXXXX
The Day I Realized Tunisia is No Longer a Free Country
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (C) On the margins of a networking event for aspiring and
successful social entrepreneurs XXXXXXXXXXXX The
book is extremely critical of the Ben Ali regime for, among
other things, the "duality" between official discourse and
the reality on the ground. Specifically XXXXXXXXXXXX points
to the "stifling" of political liberties and "omnipotent"
controls on the media. He also charges that freedom of
association is "illusory" and assesses that "the rule of law
is more fiction than reality." XXXXXXXXXXXX

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XXXXXXXXXXXX
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3. XXXXXXXXXXXX asked that the US Embassy follow his case XXXXXXXXXXXX;
the Ambassador assured him that we
would do so. Pol/EconCouns reviewed XXXXXXXXXXXX some of
the accounts of life in prison that we have heard from
released political prisoners; XXXXXXXXXXXX.

----------------------
Tale of Corruption I:
The French Connection?
----------------------

4. (C/NF) Asked whether he had also been in touch with other
western embassies, XXXXXXXXXXXX said that he had not. He had
avoided reaching out to the French, in particular, arguing
that Ambassador Degallaix is seen as Ben Ali's Ambassador to
French President Sarkozy, not vice versa. In addition,
XXXXXXXXXXXX alleged that the GOT has improperly given
Ambassador Degallaix a villa, which is registered in his
daughter's name, on rue Sidi Dhrif, near the President's own
residence. He did not offer any evidence of this alleged
corruption or explain how this knowledge came to him.


XXXXXXXXXXXX


--------------------------------------------
Tale of Corruption II:
Ben Ali Seeks 50 Percent Stake XXXXXXXXXXXX
--------------------------------------------

5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX likened corruption to a dangerous cancer
that is spreading in Tunisia, spurred on by the corrupt
practices of President Ben Ali and his extended family. When
Pol/EconCouns responded by noting that most tales of
corruption that we hear concern "The Family" rather than the
President himself, XXXXXXXXXXXX recounted an incident in which
Ben Ali himself was involved. XXXXXXXXXXXX Ben Ali came off as "very
uneducated" in the meeting, failing to grasp some of the key
points XXXXXXXXXXXX about the virtues XXXXXXXXXXXX Ben Ali abruptly told him that
he wanted a 50-50 stake in the enterprise. Fearful of
responding in the negative, XXXXXXXXXXXX said he "played dumb,"
pretending not to understand the President's proposition.

-------------------------------
Other Run-ins with "The Family"
-------------------------------

6. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX also reviewed the difficulties that lead to
the closure XXXXXXXXXXXX


How Suha Arafat Got Into Trouble
--------------------------------

7. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX also offered a theory as to what was behind
the GOT's decision to revoke Suha Arafat's Tunisian
citizenship in 2007. (Note: Reftel also reports on this
incident.) He said that he had heard that Leila Ben Ali at
that time had been scheming to marry off an 18 year-old niece
(NFI) to UAE Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler Sheik Mohamed bin
Rashid al-Maktoum, one of whose wives is the half-sister of
the King of Jordan. According to this rumor, Suha Arafat
warned Jordanian Queen Rania about Leila Ben Ali's plans.
Word of Arafat's intervention got back to the Tunisian First
Lady, who turned against Arafat and soon forced her out of
Tunisia.

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XXXXXXXXXXXX
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8. XXXXXXXXXXXX

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XXXXXXXXXXXX
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9. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX is extremely well respected and considered
an upstanding member of the community. While we might doubt
the veracity of some of the rumors that he shared with us, we
have no reason to doubt his account of his conversation with
President Ben Ali, in which he described the President as
seeking a 50 percent stake in his private university. We
routinely hear allegations of corruption, and such
allegations are inherently difficult to prove. But
XXXXXXXXXXXX anecdote strikes us as credible. It is also
significant in that it implicates Ben Ali himself, while so
many other reported incidents of corruption involve his
extended family.

10. XXXXXXXXXXXX

Please visit Embassy Tunis' Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/tunis/index.c fm
Godec
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