Wikileaks releases Syria Files

Life

5 July 2012

Whistle-blowing site Wikileaks has published a database of over 2.4 million e-mails to and from Syrian political figures, ministries and associated companies, dating from August 2006 to March 2012.

Dubbed the Syria Files, the 2,434,899 e-mails were gathered from 680 Syrian-related entities and domains, project analyst Sarah Harrison (pictured) said during a news conference in London. The correspondence includes information from the Syrian ministries of Presidential Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Information and Transport and Culture, she 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," Harrison said. The database contains information from about 679,000 e-mail addresses that have sent e-mails to more than 1 million recipients. The number of documents is more than eight times that of the Cablegate file of US diplomatic cables leaked via the site, with more than 100 times the volume of data.

Harrison did not say how Wikileaks obtained the information from so many disparate sources.

 

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To handle the volume of data in the Syria files, WikiLeaks built a general purpose, multi-language political data-mining system that can handle massive databases like those represented by the Syria Files, Harrison said. The e-mails are in different languages, including about 400,000 in Arabic and 68,000 in Russian. Wikileaks provides English, German, Spanish and French translation.

Because the collection of e-mail is so large, it was not possible to verify every single e-mail at once, said Harrison. However, the organisation is "statistically confident" that the vast majority of the data are what they purport to be, she added.

The first dump of e-mail involves an integrator of digital radio systems, Selex SI, and concerns the sale and support of TETRA encrypted digital radios and base stations, which are typically used by police forces. "The database demonstrates that the selling, the assistance and training by Selex continued through to this year," said Harrison. Wikileaks provided links to the e-mails in text format on its website, and also a link to a torrent repository of the messages.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange didn’t attend the news conference because he is trying to avoid extradition from the UK to Sweden by seeking political asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London. However, Harrison read a statement from Assange in which he called the material embarrassing for Syria and its opponents and expressed the hope that conflicts such as those in Syria can be resolved through understanding.

IDG News Service

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