Wikileaks Releases “Syria Files,” Embarrassing to West and Assad
Wikileaks has started publishing a huge trove of over two million emails belonging to Syrian political figures, ministries, and associated companies from August 2006 to March 2012. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange — currently seeking asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy in London while under an order to be extradited to Sweden where he is to face police questioning about the sexual assault of two women in August of 2010 — said about the latest release of documents:
The material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria’s opponents. It helps us not merely to criticise one group or another, but to understand their interests, actions and thoughts. It is only through understanding this conflict that we can hope to resolve it.
The Syrian government has indeed already been embarrassed when, in March, hackers released a number of emails that showed (among some other less than flattering information) the musical preferences of President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad’s absorbing interest in luxury shopping for furniture, shoes and jewelry via the internet, even as thousands of Syrians were without food, water, medical supplies or electricity and, in places like the central city of Homs, under siege by government forces.
The first batch of emails published by Wikileaks makes reference to an Italian firm, Finmeccanica and its subsidiary Selex, which has reportedly sold surveillance technology and training to Syria until 2012. CNET says that a total of 2,434,899 emails (many in Russian or Arabic), with 678,752 different email addresses sent to 1,082,447 recipients are included in the database. They will be released over two months.
But the Guardian notes that Syrian activists have expressed frustration at the slow rate at which the documents are being released and are “underwhelmed.”
Syrian Forces Shell Damascus Suburb
Hopes for a diplomatic solution to the crisis seem only to ebb into the background. At a press conference today in Damascus, General Robert Mood, the head of the United Nations Observer Mission, said that, as there is no longer a ceasefire to observe, his monitors will be consolidated to fewer areas. This announcement is in contradiction to one made yesterday, that the observer mission would only resume if the violence in the country lessens.
The bloody crackdown continues in Syria, seemingly with no end in sight. Many of the residents of the Damascus suburb of Douma have fled; Syrian artillery are said to be “pounding” it. Activists said that 11 people, including a six-year-old girl and an elderly man, were killed. New images of some areas including the battered and besieged city of Homs show parts reduced to rubble.
According to Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, Assad is accusing foreign governments of financing the uprising by paying protesters, who are (said Assad in an interview) now being paid $50 after initially receiving $10.
Bodies of Turkish Pilots Found
An American deep-sea exploration vessel under Robert Ballard, the oceanographer who discovered the wreckage of the Titanic in 1985, has found the bodies of two Turkish pilots, Gokhan Ertan and Hasan Huseyin Aksoy, whose plane was shot down by Syria on June 22. Turkey has also accused Syrian forces of deliberately setting forest fires on its borders and in areas where rebel forces have taken refuge.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is claiming that three senior Syrian officers were assassinated last night. As with so many details throughout the sixteen months of the uprising, it is impossible to substantiate such claims.
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Photo by Freedom House