Saudi Arabia Seeks Swedish PR Firm, According To Tabloid Reports
Front-Page Expose From Wikileaks Asks Was PR Company JKL Group Or Gavin Anderson
Saudi Arabia has long been a country that utilizes public relations firms, think-tanks and the like all over the world. Clearly, that extends to issues surrounding diplomatic relations in Europe.
Breaking news indicates that Expressen, one of the largest tabloid newspapers in London has revealed that the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Stockholm sought the services of a local PR firm to influence media coverage surrounding the ongoing dispute between Sweden and Saudi Arabia. The information was revealed via two-year old documents which Wikileaks leaked on Friday.
Said documents indicated that a firm was needed “win over the people and gain political support and support from the media.” Documents – sent in January 2013 – indicated that the embassy recommend an American public relations firm, either JKL Group (owned by Manning, Selvage & Lee), or Kreab Gavin Anderson. The intention, according to the documents is to “win people’s sympathy, media support and political support” and to “work to bring influential people in various media companies on our side and strengthen relations in various fields.”
Neither firm would confirm if they had worked for the Saudis.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry claimed that the documents leaked could harm national security, and urged Saudis to not download any of the documents.
There has been tense relations between Saudi Arabia and Sweden over the last few years, including the removal of the Saudi Ambassador to Stockholm, following criticism of Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women which was described as “medieval.” At the time, the Swedish government announced that it would discontinue its weapons exports to Saudi Arabia.
Previous reports have indicated that the Saudis spent over $100 million from 2000 to 2010 on American PR firms. Through the years, they have worked with many Public Relations firms, including Edelman (world’s largest PR firm), Hill & Knowlton, Qorvis Communications and others.