WikiLeaks exposes Syria files

WIKILEAKS last night began publishing a vast database of 2.4 million emails it says involve the Syrian government and associated companies, spokeswoman Sarah Harrison told a London press conference. Ms Harrison said the Syria files ”shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and economy, but they also reveal how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another”.She said the emails had been set up in a multilingual data-mining system with languages including English, Arabic and Russian that can be analysed in many different ways.

The emails derived from 680 Syria-related entities or domain names, ”including those of the ministries of Presidential Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Information, Transport and Culture ?

”The range of information extends from the intimate correspondence of the most senior Baath party figures to records of financial transfers sent from Syrian ministries to other nations.”

This leak dwarfed ”cablegate”, the release by WikiLeaks of previously confidential cable exchanges between American embassies and Washington. ”The data is more than eight times the size of ”cablegate” in terms of number of documents and more than 100 times the size in terms of data,” Ms Harrison said.

The first story would be about emails demonstrating that a Western defence company had been selling as late as this year technology to Syria, which has been enduring a bloody government crackdown on rebellion.

She said that SELEX, which belonged to the multinational defence leader Finmeccanica, had sold Syria a technology called TETRA, which allows police forces to communicate in a secure and reliable way. ”The selling, assistance and training by Selex continued through to this year,” she alleged.

A website for SELEX Communications said it sells an emergency services communication system called TETRA, an acronym for Terrestrial Trunked Radio.

Ms Harrison said she could not comment further on individual stories or headlines until they were published via seven media partners over the next two months. Publishers would include Associated Press in the US, OWNI in France and in Spain.

Ms Harrison also declined to comment on the situation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who remains holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he has applied for asylum.

She read a comment from him that said: ”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.”

Assange has been inside the embassy since June 19 seeking political asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sex allegations.

He denies the claims and says the sex was consensual and the claims against him politically motivated. He fears that extradition to Sweden could be followed by extradition to the United States where he could be charged over ”cablegate”.

First published at on 6 July 2012<