Photo by Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images
WikiLeaks said on Thursday that they have more than 2 million emails from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle and have begun to publish them.
The whistleblowing site is somewhat vague on the contents of the emails, which will be published over the course of the next two months. As described by the site, the potential revelations from the documents seem to fall into at least two broad categories: internal "intimate correspondence" among Syrian officials and emails detailing financial ties between Syria and the West.
The latter was the subject of the first release, reported by the Italian L'Espresso. The magazine says that the Italian state-run firm Finmeccanica has supplied radios and technical assistance to the Syrian government. As the Guardian notes, the emails reveal that the firm referred requests for encrypted radios to the Italian government as the crisis escalated in Syria.
According to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's statement, the documents sound less like exposé fodder for the repressive regime and more like an attempt to expose the complex financial ties at work in the international response to the Syrian uprising: "The material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria’s opponents," Assange said.
That's in stark contrast to a report released by Human Rights Watch earlier this week that details the specific locations and techniques of Syrian detention and torture facilities, where an estimated tens of thousands have been taken since the start of the Syrian uprisings against Assad in March 2011. On Thursday, the head of a U.N. observer mission to Syria described the "unprecedented" violence in the country that has kept his team trapped in their hotels since mid-June, the Associated Press reports.
It's notable that WikiLeaks has not, in this case, vouched for the veracity of all of the emails in the current leak. They explain:
It is not possible to verify every single email at once; however, WikiLeaks and its co-publishers have done so for all initial stories to be published. We are statistically confident that the vast majority of the data are what they purport to be.
WikiLeaks has partnered with media organizations to facilitate reporting on the leak, though the circle of media organizations not estranged from the site grows ever smaller. Partners for the Syrian emails include the Associated Press, Al Akhbar in Lebanon (which, the Guardian notes, has been accused of covering the Assad regime favorably), Al Masry Al Youm in Egypt, ARD in Germany, L’Espresso, Owni in France, and Publico.es in Spain.
Meanwhile, Assange is still staying inside Ecuador's embassy in London while he awaits the country's decision on his asylum bid. If it's denied, the WikiLeaks founder will be extradited to Sweden where he's wanted for questioning on two allegations of sexual assault.