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Did WikiLeaks Exclude Syria To Russia Bank Transfer Emails From Syria Files?

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posted on Oct, 3 2016 @ 12:02 PM
Did WikiLeaks deliberately exclude from the Syria Files release an email from Salim Toubaji, head of treasury at the Central Bank of Syria, to Sergey Avakov, Managing Director Financial Institutions at VTB Bank — one of Russia's largest banks and one that is state-controlled — detailing the transfer of more than 2 billion Euros?

This is the question being asked by two journalists at the Daily Dot. While it's impossible to say with absolute confidence that the document was deliberately excluded (barring an admission from inside the secretive WikiLeaks), the journalists make a good argument that this is the case and the responses from WikiLeaks are serious red flags.

WikiLeaks release excludes evidence of €2 billion transfer from Syria to Russia

The court records, placed under seal by a Manhattan federal court and obtained by the Daily Dot through an anonymous source, show in detail how a group of hacktivists breached the Syrian government’s networks on the eve of the country’s civil war and extracted emails about major bank transactions the Syrian regime was hurriedly making amid a host of economic sanctions. In the spring of 2012, most of the emails found their way into a WikiLeaks database.

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.

More than 500 pages of sealed documents reveal in extraordinary detail how a handful of activists seized near-total control of Syria’s internet and then employed that power to conduct real-time surveillance on many of the nation’s top ministry officials. The leaked records, amassed during the U.S. government investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and affiliated hackers worldwide, likewise confirm RevoluSec to be the source of “The Syria Files,” a cache of more than 2 million Syrian government emails published by WikiLeaks over the summer of 2012.

The leaked documents offer evidence that not every email intercepted by RevoluSec found its way into WikiLeaks’ database, despite the fervor of the hackers who wished them exposed.

The emails in question do not appear to be part of the court documents that were provided to the Daily Dot — or if they were, the authors did not mention this. However, they do link to an article at the Bulgarian investigative news site Bivol ("Bull") which published the following excerpt (reproduced in the DD story) in an article entitled Assad's Money Hidden in Russian VTB Bank, published September 19, 2012:

ATTN: Mr. Sergey Avakov Managing Director Financial Institutions JSC VTB Bank

Dear Mr. Avakov,
In reply to your message dated 26.10.2011 please be informed that following your good bank’s proposals, which we have received previously, we have raised the total amount of deposits up to more than EUR 2 bln. Please note that the matter of extending the terms of the Central Bank of Syria existing deposits at the moment remains under consideration. We shall inform you accordingly when any decision in this regard is taken.

Meanwhile, we kindly ask you to open an account in Russian rubles in the name of our bank or provide us with your instructions on the actions that we should take in order to open such an account.

We remain in anticipation of your reply and look forward to expanding our fruitful cooperation.

The above is also what's included in the Daily Dot article. According to what I've been able to dig up on Bivol, it's a legitimate investigative news site (see addendum). Also from the Bivol piece:

The US sanctions on Syria and Iran harm Russian business, said Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov last Saturday, after meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Russian port city of Vladivostok. He pointed out that Russian banks have been particularly affected. Are Russian banks operating with Syrian money in such quantities that the sanctions could harm them? An email addressed to Mr. Sergey Avakov, Managing Director of Financial Institutions in JSC VTB Bank, is giving at least a partial answer. The following message, originating from a Syrian official mailbox, and revealed to Bivol by a hacker’s group, apparently confirms Lavrov’s words:

The message is not dated and the author’s name is not disclosed by the source, thus it can’t be fully authenticated. Such message is not found in the 2.5 mln Syrian emails released by Wikileaks in July, but our source claims it has originated from a security breach in one of the Syrian Internet servers.

Mr. Avakov, reached by phone, refused to answer any questions and directed our reporter to the Press office of VTB. Bivol’s written request for comment sent to the VTB’s press office remains without answer.

I bolded a line in the above which shows that Bivol noticed that it was missing from the Syria Files release back in 2012. It's not clear if the Daily Dot journalists were aware of the Bivol piece before receiving the sealed court documents, if they found it while researching the contents of the documents — or perhaps among their RevoluSec-associated sources is the Bivol source.

I recommend reading the Bivol article in its entirety of course.
edit on 2016-10-3 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 3 2016 @ 12:03 PM
The main points of the Daily Dot reporters' argument (excerpts from article) with slight tweaking by myself:

1. The original source of the emails provided to WikiLeaks in November and March were members of RevoluSec.

More than 500 pages of sealed documents reveal in extraordinary detail how a handful of activists seized near-total control of Syria’s internet and then employed that power to conduct real-time surveillance on many of the nation’s top ministry officials. The leaked records, amassed during the U.S. government investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and affiliated hackers worldwide, likewise confirm RevoluSec to be the source of “The Syria Files,” a cache of more than 2 million Syrian government emails published by WikiLeaks over the summer of 2012.

RevoluSec was one of a number of interrelated Anonymous-affiliated groups including LulzSec, AntiSec, and CabinCr3w. The specific details of the relationships are a bit beyond the scope of this post but some of the more relevant relationships will be made clearer shortly and I'll provide a link or two as a jumping off point for further research at the end.

RevoluSec was not mentioned by name in the "Anonymous Operation Syria" press release reported by media outlets in which claims are made as to the source of the Syria Files release.

2. The emails are conspicuously missing from among those received by the same account on the same day that WERE part of the release.

the Syria Files should still contain the central bank’s emails from Oct. 26, 2011, concerning its €2 billion and bank account in Moscow: For one, WikiLeaks has published several emails received by the same account ([email protected]) from that day.

3. According to information in the sealed court documents, the emails released by WikiLeaks WERE part of the same archive that contained the missing emails.

the court records leaked to the Daily Dot reveal the Moscow bank’s emails were, in fact, part of the larger backup file containing numerous emails currently found on the WikiLeaks site. One such email, discussed in depth by RevoluSec members more than nine months before the WikiLeaks release, details the transfer of €5 million from a bank in Frankfurt, Germany, to a European central bank in Austria, the recipient of the email being Central Bank of Syria.

“I hope Russia doesn't kill me,” one of the hackers said, discussing their intent to expose the alleged transfer. “I'm more scared of Russia than Bashar.”

4. Occurring in parallel are known conversations from hacker turned FBI informant Sabu (LulzSec, AntiSec, working with RevoluSec) and WikiLeaks's staffer/associate turned FBI informant Sigurdur Thordarson which corroborate the above.

The Syria-Russia exchange first appeared on the open web roughly three years ago in a leaked chatlog from November 2011, between a former WikiLeaks staffer and LulzSec hacker Hector Monsegur, who had signed an FBI cooperation agreement five months before in a bid to maintain custody of two children under his care. Ironically, and unbeknownst to Monsegur, the WikiLeaks staffer, Sigurdur Thordarson, had volunteered to assist the bureau three months earlier. (Thordarson is currently serving the remainder of a six-year prison sentence near Reykjavik, Iceland, for embezzlement, fraud, and sex with minors.)

The Daily Dot article links to a chatlog pasted to Pastebin on Jun 29th, 2013. The identity of Sabu is well known. The identification of "dumbo12" as Thordarson is easily verifiable but one source is the Forbes article from 2013, Here's What It Looks Like When Two Hacker FBI Informants Try To Inform On Each Other which also corroborates the validity of this chatlog or I should say to be completely accurate and objective, confirms that it's valid according to Thordarson. As further verification, an identical log can be found on Scribd, linked from this Slate article.

(2:53:12 AM) Sabu [Lulzsec]: syrian tresury sent austria 5million euro one day before embargo
(2:53:13 AM) dumbo12@: me? monitored hahaha give me another one
(2:53:26 AM) Sabu [Lulzsec]: we have another email of syria's tresury sending russia 2 billion euro
(2:53:29 AM) Sabu [Lulzsec]: with full email headers
(2:53:31 AM) dumbo12@: wait....those are bank details?
(2:53:41 AM) Sabu [Lulzsec]: yup
(2:53:45 AM) Sabu [Lulzsec]: this is real s*** [my edit -ante]
(2:54:08 AM) dumbo12@: is this something WL could get there hands on and get real and good publicitiy?

(2:56:16 AM) Sabu [Lulzsec]: the only assistance I need is money so I can stop living in poverty and being the brokest hacker on earth
(2:56:17 AM) Sabu [Lulzsec]: hahaha
(2:56:37 AM) Sabu [Lulzsec]: tell julian that url has attachments RIGHT from syrian government. including airline passes from syrian embaassy

(3:26:40 AM) dumbo12@: I will let you know tomorrow or in 2 days, Julian's hearing is tomorrow if i remember correctly and i need a green light from him before doing anything
(3:26:57 AM) Sabu [Lulzsec]: sounds good. wish him luck for me

You'll need to read the rest yourselves (again, highly recommended) but the 5 million euro email is referenced there and the 2 billion euro email is pasted into the chat (identical to what Bivol reported). "WL" it's safe to say refers to WikiLeaks and "Julian" could only be Julian Assange. The Forbes article also notes that WikiLeaks tried to downplay Thordarson's involvement with WikiLeaks in a tweet from about a month prior on June 27, 2013 (my characterization):

At no time did Sigurdur Thordarson 'work' for WikiLeaks. At no time did he have access to sourcing or publishing systems.

Right on schedule, Sputnik News was there for the assist on the same day: WikiLeaks denies it has had an FBI informer in its ranks.

Julian Assange arriving at the High Court in London with "Siggi" in 2011 (source)
edit on 2016-10-3 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 3 2016 @ 12:03 PM
Way back at the beginning, I made reference to serious red flags in the WikiLeaks response to the Daily Dot and I'd like to finish up with those. Once more from the Daily Dot article:

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.”

In what has become a standard tactic of WikiLeaks and its most ardent defenders, rather than address the questions of the relationship between WikiLeaks/Assange and Russia meaningfully, anyone who dares to question WikiLeaks is simply accused of "neo-McCarthyist conspiracy theories." It flies in the face of reason that an organization truly dedicated to transparency, exposing lies, revealing corruption, uncovering conspiracies and protecting democracy should be this secretive, this unilaterally controlled by a single man — wholly subject to his personal agendas, whatever they may be — and so willing to hide behind dubious allegations of "conspiracy theories."

Worse yet, as highly secretive bad actors are want to do, WikiLeaks has further taken to abusing its self-appointed role by threatening those who question them:

(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.”)


1. Notes about Bivol

The Center to Protect Journalism (independent non-profit press advocacy group est. 1981) called for the Bulgarian PM to protect Bivol journalists here in 2015. The CPJ statement also mentions that Bivol has a partnership with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). Along with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Süddeutsche Zeitung, OCCRP was involved in the release of the Panama Papers.

OCCRP, it's worth noting, has published quite a lot of material critical of Putin friends and relatives (Igor Putin) as well as the current Ukranian President, Petro Poroshenko. On April 5th of this year, WikiLeaks posted the following about OCCRP and the PanamaPapers on Twitter:

#PanamaPapers Putin attack was produced by OCCRP which targets Russia & former USSR and was funded by USAID & Soros.

and in a follow up where it's pointed out that OCCRP isn't the source of the Panama Papers:

WikiLeaks ‏@wikileaks Apr 6 @a_caseyquinn @mynameisphilipp SZ is the source of the documents. OCCRP is the source of the Putin story.

Not surprisingly to me anyway, RT followed up on April 6th, repeating the claims: US government, Soros funded Panama Papers to attack Putin – WikiLeaks. That story cites a number of other Tweets where WikiLeaks somewhat walks back the original allegations ("The US OCCRP can do good work, but for the US govt to directly fund the #PanamaPapers attack on Putin seriously undermines its integrity." "Claims that #PanamaPapers themselves are a 'plot' against Russia are nonsense. However hoarding, DC organization & USAID money tilt coverage" etc). The same day The Daily Caller pointed out that WikiLeaks had failed to mention that funding also comes from Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Program (SRCP) and that WikiLeaks offered no evidence of actual undue influence.

2. Additional links

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The face of Anonymous
Wired - WikiLeaks Volunteer Was a Paid Informant for the FBI
Rolling Stone - The WikiLeaks Mole
Ars Technica - Teenage WikiLeaks volunteer: Why I served as an FBI informant

While not labeled "Part Two" this serves essentially as a second installment in my promised series on the WikiLeaks/Russia connection started a couple days ago with my thread Dissecting The WikiLeaks Russian Connection - Part One.
edit on 2016-10-3 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 4 2016 @ 01:36 AM
Subscribed for future reference, went to bed, and woke up... only to find zero replies to this topic? That's really dismaying, and should be more than a little disturbing as to where our focus is in my opinion. But then, this particular forum in general seems quite neglected on the site... despite the fact that in some senses, its focus is the very epitome of conspiracy theory; information being manipulated and exploited to achieve opaque goals.

So, my thoughts, for whatever little they're likely worth.

At any given time, there's always an information war going on for our hearts and minds. To assume otherwise is, in my opinion, naive in the extreme. Every sphere of influence, country, cabal, society, and company on Earth has a way they'd like us to see reality... and some have a huge sum of resources tied up in trying to accomplish just that.

One of their best tools, because we ourselves empower it, is what I like to call "binary blinders." It's really just cognitive dissonance when you come down to it, though. You start with a simple emergent premise in a person's mind, such as, say, "I profoundly disagree with what my government is doing, and I believe the entirety of the political establishment is corrupt." It doesn't matter if that premise is true or not. It may well be true (I happen to hold that exact opinion personally, and believe it is true,) but what matters is the alternative the various powers that be in our world offer to the principle conflict in that premise.

Case in point: to me, it's unquestionable that Hillary Clinton is corrupt, has lied or at best been so careless as to be beyond believability, etc. etc. We all know the laundry list of charges against her in the court of public opinion, many of which I do personally subscribe to. I also don't believe Donald Trump is necessarily conciously, knowingly working with Russia in any substantive sense. I don't even necessarily believe Assange or Wikileaks are working with Russia. But here's the thing...

Several different things can be possible at the same time, here. Things are not black and white, and the intuitive belief that things are black and white (because we unconsciously want them to be; it's just easier for us, and avoids dissonance) is precisely what various interests try to exploit. Hillary Clinton can be corrupt, Donald Trump can have absolutely no collusion with Russia, Wikileaks can have absolutely no collusion with Russia, and Russia can still be actively working to exert influence, and exploit all of these dynamics for their benefit.

With what we know of Putin, to assume that they aren't doing precisely that is a dangerous supposition in my view. Does anyone really believe, honestly, that Vladimir Putin would not rather have Wikileaks - with its air of "secret knowledge" that everyone in the modern era seems to crave, and its track record - leak information that paints a certain picture versus another? Or that he would not want the candidate who has called NATO obsolete, and who has suggested the U.S. might not come to the defense of certain NATO allies if Russia attacked them, to become president of the United States?

Of course he would. It is in Russia's and Putin's direct national and political interest for those things to happen. Of course they are going to exert whatever influence they can to see that their national, strategic, and political interests are served to the greatest extent possible. We do precisely the same thing, all the time... often to Russia's direct detriment, which is precisely why this asymmetric form of warfare has been ratcheting up between their proxies and ours in recent years.

The problem is... Americans are so disillusioned with our institutions now, that we are prepared to accept anything that appears to be alternative to the status quo, anything that is "anti-establishment." There was a time when, in the face of public outcry, the government would be forced to dial back its policies in order to prevent precisely that kind of widespread disillusionment. But for the last two or three administrations, this is no longer the case. I think the Iraq war was where trust was truly destroyed finally, but it's been building for decades now, and it's been done by both political parties.

So now we're in this situation where we are more divided than ever, more polarized than ever, and people are beginning to even see Russia as the good guy... or at least a preferable alternative to U.S. foreign policy. I've seen many here on ATS and elsewhere cheering Putin as being someone "working against the NWO," or saying we're getting what we deserve as his foreign policy successes mount and ours dwindle in the ME and elsewhere. This is a dangerous example of the "binary blinders" I mentioned above in my opinion. People now believe in the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" fallacy, and it is precisely that: a fallacy.

I'm not a patriotic American who defends our foreign policy and actions in the world... on the contrary, I oppose a vast amount of what we do on the world stage. And I'm well aware of all the corruption, lies, criminality, and outright conspiracy that goes on. I've been studying it for decades now, I better be. But I don't see the world through a binary lens that says, "Well, if X is bad, then Y is at least a better alternative." I see all sides, and all major powers competing for influence over our hearts and minds... with a few secret societies thrown into the mix to create a more international flavor of power base (but nowhere near as interlocking and monolithic or in control as people like to imagine imo - they're just one more power base out of many) ... and the emerging chaos that arises from those dynamics.

So is Wikileaks working with or for Russia? I don't know. It wouldn't surprise me, but the thing is... that doesn't have to be true for Russia to still be exerting influence or pulling levers internally or externally. Just as we would. Is Trump working for or with Russia? I don't personally think he is consciously or directly, but it's unquestionable to me that Putin would much rather Trump win the election than Clinton. Is Clinton then the better alternative? Not to me, no. For me, there are no good alternatives right now.

I say all of this not to promote one "side" or the other... I'm not voting for either of them. Nor to promote American interests over Russian interests. Again, I don't see either side as angels or saints. There are no "good guys" on the world stage at that level of power, and that is ultimately my whole point. There is no hero state coming to "defeat the NWO" or what have you, and no candidate above the influence of various powers, whether foreign or domestic... even if they don't realize it themselves necessarily! Things are not binary. Things are not black or white. Things are not either/or. Things are terrifyingly grey, especially in the world of espionage, counterintelligence, and information warfare.

I just think we all need to remember that. Because right now, apparently, many don't. Or are willing to accept the devil we don't know, because the devil we do is so clearly abhorrent. Which is exactly what the other devil wants us to do imho. It's everyone's prerogative of course. But we are being manipulated. Always.

edit on 10/4/2016 by AceWombat04 because: Typos

edit on 10/4/2016 by AceWombat04 because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 4 2016 @ 03:09 AM
a reply to: AceWombat04

So is Wikileaks working with or for Russia? I don't know. It wouldn't surprise me, but the thing is... that doesn't have to be true for Russia to still be exerting influence or pulling levers internally or externally. Just as we would. Is Trump working for or with Russia? I don't personally think he is consciously or directly, but it's unquestionable to me that Putin would much rather Trump win the election than Clinton. Is Clinton then the better alternative? Not to me, no. For me, there are no good alternatives right now.

I believe it's been firmly established that the DNC "leaks" were the work of Russian state-sponsored hackers. I think that anyone who has researched the topic will likely come to the same conclusion.

Even so, I can imagine several scenarios where WikiLeaks is indirectly a tool of the Russians rather than deliberately conspiring with them.

For one, WikiLeaks relies on external sources of material for publication. So in that regard, if Russia is the only one giving them material that they deem worthy of release, then it's a reasonable assumption that those are the releases that they'd be making.

Secondly, Julian Assange has an admitted vendetta against Clinton and arguably, an anti-US agenda. It may not matter at all to Assange where it comes from. So it's completely possible that they are both simply serving their interests independently and it just so happens that because those interests align, they appear to have a more substantial relationship than exists.

My personal belief is that it's more than that but I'm entirely open to any possibilities.

You make an excellent point about binary thinking and it's one that I have made myself several times over the years on ATS. The public as a whole isn't particularly fond of nuance and I believe that many (perhaps most) people are more comfortable when presented with two diametrically opposed points of view because it frees them from having to consider all the things in between that could be true.

This leads to virtually every topic of public debate being considered through false dichotomies.

As for Trump. I'm simply not sure. I suspect at the very least that he has no real desire to understand geopolitics or to develop informed opinons on foreign policy and that this leaves him susceptible to adoption of whatever is being whispered into his ear by his advisors.

What is more certain than that however, is that within the orbit of Donald Trump there are a number of individuals who have arguably pro-Putin/pro-Russian positions. How much influence they truly have is a matter of debate but I think it's reasonable to speculate that he's been more than nudged in a direction that is very friendly to the interests of the Russian government/oligarchy,

Does this make him a Russian operative? No. It's not even necessary that his advisors being properly in league with the Russians. I registered as a member of a political party this year to vote for Bernie Sanders in my state's primary but my position has been all along that if Trump or Cruz were nominated, I'd all but certainly vote for the Democrat. Had the Republicans nominated somebody else, I may have found myself voting for the Republican candidate in the GE.

While I believe that the "lesser of two evils" vote is the most pragmatic approach, I certainly respect your decision.

Thanks for the response. It's a little disheartening that you're only one who has responded but I couldn't have asked for a more considered response.

posted on Oct, 4 2016 @ 04:56 AM
a reply to: theantediluvian

Believe me - it's disheartening (more like alarming) to me too.
This is a very well researched and important topic. I really don't understand why it has less traction than the Kardashians on a site like ATS. (Other than perhaps, as I said, the forum it's on... which seems very abandoned. Which is also dismaying.)

What you just pointed out about Trump's circle having arguably pro-Russia (or at least Russian associated in at least one case) individuals in it, and the possibility of Assange not knowing the sources of the information he leaks, is exactly what I was getting at when I said they don't have to consciously be serving a Russian agenda to be serving one nonetheless.

At the same time though, the Russian angle is also a convenient foil for the Clinton campaign to deploy against Trump, so I also have to be guarded and cautious in how I digest those suggestions as well. Hence my reticence to simply declare that there's more going on than unwitting support.

But I think we can both agree, with or without choosing a side (without in my case) ... Putin would most definitely prefer one of the two candidates over the other. I can't stand Clinton (or Trump,) but even I can clearly see that.

edit on 10/4/2016 by AceWombat04 because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 4 2016 @ 08:36 AM
Ace, ante.....

Hearts and minds. Americans for the most part have lost their "minds" over the years. It wasn't always this way. That is what I see as the weakness that can be exploited so easily, by friend or foe. The appeal to the "heart", the emotions.

How many members would take the time to read threads like this? How many would consider it worth their time to read a thread like this? A "heart" appeal, an appeal to the emotions, can be more effective when people are either incapable of intellectual defense or choose not to defend with the mind.

However, neither education nor intelligence is a guarantee that rational thought will prevail. Completely intelligent people can believe non-sense, motivated instead by fear, paranoia and/or anger. When this nonsense is given power, such as political power, and spread by means outside of politics without being countered, then we have the conditions for turning inward to devour ourselves.

Both Putin and Trump (as well as leaders of, say, ISIS) believe in and push the narrative of a glorious past and the need to recapture that dream to make their world great again. They do so using fear and an appeal to the "heart", an appeal unbalanced by the "mind". Feelings count more than facts in their campaign to gather followers.

Both Putin and I were children when we saw Khrushchev pound his shoe on the desk and roar, "We will bury you!", to America. My country misunderstood the translation and became afraid. Putin's country is the one that later fell. Perhaps if we had understood what that Soviet leader (and he was quite a showman himself) was telling us, we would have been more prepared to defend ourselves from ourselves.
edit on 4-10-2016 by desert because: slight grammar fix

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