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Email Cache Shows Assads’ Luxurious Lifestyle While Syria Burns

Email Cache Shows Assads’ Luxurious Lifestyle While Syria Burns

The Guardian has obtained copies of a cache of emails from the personal accounts of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife, Asma, that show him mocking proposed reforms, taking advice from Iran and emailing iTunes songs to her. Many of Asma al-Assad’s own emails are about shopping for items ranging from chandeliers to a £6,257 table from West Sussex to  jewelry made by a small Paris workshop. The emails offer a highly unflattering window on Syria’s leader and First Lady, who comes across as a modern day Marie Antoinette, purchasing a new chocolate fondue set while Syrians in cities besieged by government tanks are killed when they venture out to forage for food.

The emails were obtained from an unnamed “young government worker” who obtained the passwords to two email accounts, sam@alshahba.com and ak@alshahba.com, reportedly the personal accounts of Assad and his wife. Activists monitored the emails for nine months. According to the Guardian, three months after the Syrian uprising began in the southern city of Dera’a, “two Syrian professionals in a Gulf state” who had become active in the opposition movement learned of the email accounts and passwords. Until February, when a “threatening email in Arabic was sent to the Sam email address,” the activists read every email that appeared from both accounts. Those from the Sam account were almost immediately erased, a suggestion that the account’s owner was wary of it being hacked.

Al-Shabha is a company based in Dubai with a registered office in London that is “a key conduit for Syrian government business and private purchases of Mrs Assad.”

In the emails from the Sam account, Assad ridiculed the reform — “rubbish laws of parties, elections, media” — he had announced to end the crisis. The emails show him receiving advice from Hussein Mortada, an “influential Lebanese businessman with strong connections to Iran”; one piece of advice was that the regime to take control of public squares between 3pm and 9pm, to deny protesters the opportunity to gather there. Assad was also able to get around “extensive US sanctions against him by using a third party with a US address” to download music and apps from iTunes. He apparently sent a YouTube video of a song by US country singer Blake Sheldon “God Gave Me You” to his wife, as well as a video clip from America’s Got Talent of “the best illusion of all time,” a man appearing to saw another man in half.

A link sent to an aide includes a link to a YouTube video that includes “a crude re-enactment of the siege of Homs using toys and biscuits.”

While noting that it is possible that some of the emails are fakes, the Guardian cites several pieces of evidence to suggest their authenticity. Ten people whose emails appear in the cache of 3,000 emails have been contacted; some emails, including some from Asma al-Assad’s brothers, contain personal details. Due to “the nature of the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on the Syrian people,” the Guardian says that it believes that “the more detailed picture of the workings of Assad’s inner circle that emerges from the mails, and the extent to which he and his wife have managed to sustain their luxurious lifestyle, are also of public interest.”

Related Care2 Coverage

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23 comments

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9:41AM PDT on Apr 21, 2013

I don't see that there is much difference between these two and other world leaders. And I sure don't believe everything I read in the "news"papers. I'm not saying that the guy is not despicable.

7:03AM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

Thumbs up to all the posters making the post that not only the information is unreliable but that it -sadly- describes what people in power EVERYWHERE usually do.
This does not only happen in the Middle East, maybe in a more covered up way it happens everywhere. The WHite House is the USA's closer thing to a palace and the lifestyle led by its residents is also first class even when millions of people in the country have not even a roof on their heads. Same could be applied to the Vatican or to any monarchy around. HAs no one read the news of how Spain's Infanta's husband is up to his eyebrows in frauds (as if he didn't earn enough by being Duke of Palma as to lead a comfy life in WASHINGTON?).
Wake up, unfortunately most people are greedy and/or take advantage of their position, the main difference is some get caught while others don't and that some abuse slightly less or justify their "wages" better. I would like to think some person in power will be reallyinterested in not making profit, but wouldn't hold my breath on it either.

4:11PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

Sian R.

You are quite correct. Indeed, does David Cameron live in a council house? Sheila H made the ludicrous assertion on another thread that al-Assad had stolen £600 billions, 10 times more than Mubarak. There is a nasty propaganda campaign going on, which Care2 and some of its more disreputable authors are fanning the flames of.

2:39PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

Well, I've read Kristina's article. I've also read ALL the links in the Guardian (striving for truth and balance).
But the only 'truth' I can find in either is the sincere wish to paint the Assads in a bad light without a shred of evidence.
I can understand this from Kristina - but from the Guardian! I' disappointed, but not really surprised.

3:36PM PDT on Mar 17, 2012

Is this to show that he is just being a rich boy living his life?
What about all the dead citizens? is all the information being said a lie?

1:15PM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

Em, does anybody know about this, there's this country called america.
Yeah really, it exists!

And guess what!
They're going to war with everyone right now and have been for a long time.
Killing millions of people worldwide!

Really?
Noooo.. but they're the good guys.. aren't they?


12:49PM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

Oh no, who would have ever though this great leader would live the high life and crap on his people!

7:42AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

This is news? Wealthy despots around the world support each other and live by their own rules. They do not mix with the people and do not care about the people; they are sociopaths at best and psychopaths at worst, okay, mass murderers at worst, but that is the same. Have they earned their wealth? No, we the people in other countries, especially USA, prop them up and support them to maintain the ol' crony system. What a wonderful world if we looked out for other people and did the people's business for everybody, not just the rich who cannot function outside their bubbles of luxury and are amazed when, as politicians, they see what the regular folk do, such as grocery market scanners, wow, what a concept. maroons.

6:27AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

The face of evil and the face of unscrupulous power are synonymous and incomprehensible.

6:14AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

Michael H and Martin L. Thank you for your posts. I just wish others would read them closely.

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