Wikileaks in 2012 published emails from Syrian government officials obtained by hackers, but the website did not include an email noting that the Syrian regime transferred more than $2 billion to a state-owned Russian bank, according to a Daily Dot report published on Friday.
Wikileaks denied that it purposefully excluded the record from the trove of emails it published, and the transparency group threatened retribution against reporters at the Daily Dot if they continued to report on the document.
The Daily Dot obtained U.S. court records from an unnamed source about hackers’ success in breaking into the Syrian government’s networks and obtaining emails about bank transactions. And “most of the emails found their way into a WikiLeaks database,” according to The Daily Dot. But the outlet reported that some documents about bank transfers never made it to Wikileaks’ website:
But one set of emails in particular didn’t make it into the cache of documents published by WikiLeaks in July 2012 as “The Syria Files,” despite the fact that the hackers themselves were ecstatic at their discovery. The correspondence, which WikiLeaks has denied withholding, describes “more than” €2 billion ($2.4 billion, at current exchange rates) moving from the Central Bank of Syria to Russia’s VTB Bank.
When asked for a comment on the email about the bank transfer, Wikileaks denied that it excluded the email:
In response to a request for comment, WikiLeaks said the preceding account “is speculation and it is false.” The spokesperson continued: “The release includes many emails referencing Syrian-Russian relations. As a matter of long standing policy we do not comment on claimed sources. It is disappointing to see Daily Dot pushing the Hillary Clinton campaign’s neo-McCarthyist conspiracy theories about critical media.” (WikiLeaks threatened to retaliate against the reporters if they pursued the story: “Go right ahead,” they said, “but you can be sure we will return the favour one day.”)
As the Daily Dot noted, U.S. officials believe that leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee published by Wikileaks may have come from Russian hackers:
WikiLeaks has become an ever-prominent force in the 2016 presidential election through its publishing of tens of thousands of emails, voicemails, and documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee by hackers that U.S. authorities and cybersecurity experts believe are linked to the Russian government. The transparency organization, which boasts of a commitment to use “cryptography to protect human rights” against repressive regimes, has faced criticism from supporters of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and praise from Republican opponent Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has refused to say where he got the hacked DNC emails and has maintained that the goal of his organization is “to educate the public.”