Palestinians hold Tunisian and Palestinian flags and a portrait of deposed Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali during a march in solidarity with Tunisia in Gaza City, Sunday, Jan. 16 , 2011. Tunisia sped toward a new future after its iron-fisted leader fled, with an interim president sworn in and ordering the country's first multiparty government to be formed. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is rejecting claims that revelations of rampant corruption in Tunisia in secret U.S. diplomatic documents sparked the popular revolt that overthrew the authoritarian leadership of the North African nation.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Sunday that Tunisians were well aware of the graft, nepotism and lavish lifestyles led by ex-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his family long before the WikiLeaks website published the diplomatic cables.
Crowley said in a Tweet that the Tunisian people alone are the catalysts for the uprising that saw the autocratic Ben Ali flee the country on Friday.
Many commentators have suggested that the blunt assessments of Ben Ali and his family contained in the leaked cables contributed to discontent over high unemployment and poor economy that fomented the revolt.