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Cyber security 'a top priority'

CYBER security is one of the new pressing issues to be tackled in the Gulf, a leading expert said yesterday.

The revelation comes in view of the latest whistleblower website's release of unauthorised confidential cables.

GCC states are now looking for ways to improve their cyber security to avoid issues that happened with WikiLeaks, said Saudi-based King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies chairman Prince Turki Al Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

"The fact that it happened in the US makes us (GCC) concerned and interested in this," he told the conference at the closing session yesterday, entitled 'The Changing Nature of Regional Security Issues'.

"If it happened in the US, it can happen to us," he said.

Prince Turki said if diplomats and leaders were not able to discuss matters that affect them through cables freely, the countries are "in trouble".

"The US needs to not only restore the credibility and legitimacy of their engagement with the rest of the world, but make sure no more leaks happen in the future," he said.

He called for whoever was responsible for those releases to be severely punished.

Responding to a question on what in his view went wrong in the area, Prince Turki revealed that the import of other government systems to the region was one of the developments that allowed for things to go wrong.

He said an example was Turkey, where it imported the Swiss law as replacement to Sharia law, thereby setting a trend for other countries in the region to take the same steps.

"However, more maturity is needed to look back in these matters," said Prince Turki.

"The Gulf needs systems that come from within the social fabric of these countries to ensure their prosperity and success."

He also stressed that issues such as human rights and freedom of the Press had been accepted as a framework for governments and were progressing in many countries.

"Taking bold steps forward on issues like women's rights, human rights and freedom of the Press is important," said Prince Turki.

He said, meanwhile, that not much money was needed for terrorists to implement their plans of destruction.

Prince Turki said an example was the heinous attacks in Riyadh, Sanaa, London subway and Madrid railway system.

"They do not need a lot of money to bomb an area, like what happened in Riyadh, Sanaa, London or Madrid," he said.

"Little finance is all they need to have maximum effect for their criminal activities."

Prince Turki said there was the possibility that terrorist financing was coming from drug money.

basma@gdn.com.bh

BAHRAIN yesterday confirmed barring an Associated Press photographer from attending a Press conference held on Friday by Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and his US counterpart Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"The photographer was denied access as his name was not on the list of reporters and photographers invited to cover the Manama Dialogue," a ministry spokesman said.

The statement was in response to allegations published by some newspapers and news websites.

He also described allegations posted on CNN Arabic quoting a Foreign Ministry official as "entirely untrue".

"No Foreign Ministry official gave a statement or made comments to a media channel," the spokesman said.

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