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Open Society says Sipo may have relied on stolen documents to make Amnesty donation decision

Sipo has ordered Amnesty to return the €137,000 donation it received from Open Society.

Image: Thomas Peter/PA

BILLIONAIRE GEORGE SOROS’ Open Society Foundations have said the Standards in Public Office Commission may have relied on documents stolen by hackers to make its decision about a donation to Amnesty International.

Last year the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo), received information that several Irish organisations had received donations from a foreign donor and that the donations were for political purposes.

Amnesty was ordered to return the €137,000 donation it received from Open Society, though the charity has said it will challenge this order.

In a statement today, Open Society said it has at no time confirmed that the grant given by its women’s rights programme was for political purposes. It has written to the regulator asking for any public statements to the contrary to be corrected.

“The grant in question was to fund AI’s My Body My Rights campaign, which seeks to mobilise support for a repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which effectively bans all forms of abortion in Ireland in violation of women’s and girls’ human rights,” it said.

In asserting that the grant was for “political purposes” Sipo’s head of ethics and lobbying, Sherry Perreault, was quoted in The Times of Ireland on 20 December as saying that there was “documentary evidence received by the commission which was verified by the donor” which “essentially clarified the intent.”

Documents stolen from servers

Open Society said it is concerned that the regulator may be referring to internal documents that were stolen from its servers and illegally published on the DC Leaks website in 2016.

This was done, it said, “reportedly by hackers working for the Russian government seeking to publicly discredit our human rights work around the world”.

Open Society has told Sipo that these documents were not dispositive of its intent as a donor – rather they were part of an ongoing discussion on how best to strengthen women’s reproductive rights across Europe.

“In addition, it was Amnesty who first approached Open Society, in a general call for expressions of interest for a grant that was not specific to abortion,” it continued.

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The organisation also said the legal scope of the grant given to Amnesty International is determined by the language of the grant agreement, and not by any other document.

“The Open Society Foundations trusts that Sipo will rely only on this document to determine whether the terms of this grant comply with Irish law.”

A spokesperson for Sipo declined to comment.

Read: Standards commission explains why Geoge Soros’ donation to fund Amnesty abortion campaign was illegal

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