The Leaked WikiLeaks Investigation File

There are a few problems that we, collectively, haven’t addressed with last week’s Daily Dot article and with how we’re looking at it. Almost immediately, the article became incendiary and divisive between those who dismissed it as propaganda and those who embraced it until they were embracing conclusions not supported, or even made, by the article. With a title like WikiLeaks release excludes evidence of €2 billion transfer from Syria to Russia it’s no surprise that many saw this as either a “hit piece” against the organization or a sign that WikiLeaks is actively collaborating with Russia. While the article itself might not have been a hit piece, it’s clearly the result of a carefully calculated attack on WikiLeaks.

Aside from some contextual information, the article’s source is a 500 page document that was sealed by a federal court. These sealed court documents were accumulated as part of the government’s investigation into WikiLeaks and could only have been access by a small number of people, most of them government workers. According to the article, the records were “obtained by the Daily Dot through an anonymous source,” one that not even the authors appear to understand the motives of. Without being able to examine the documents to understand their context and look for signs of alterations, it’s impossible to fully confirm the information in the article. However, we are able to examine the context of the article itself.

The article begins with a simple BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) stating that WikiLeaks hadn’t published an email linking Russian and Syrian finances. This is followed up by two sentences about the theory that the DNC documents being published by WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 were obtained by Russian hackers. While there is good reason to be concerned about this possibility, there is no evidence suggesting that WikiLeaks has actively or willfully collaborated with Russian intelligence. WikiLeaks’ stance has been clear throughout – while they don’t comment on sources, they also don’t turn them away. If American or Russian intelligence provided documents that WikiLeaks was able to authenticate, they would publish them. The truth is more important than the speaker, and the messenger is insignificant compared to the message.

While the sealed documents apparently contained some interesting quotes that were included in the article, the only truly important thing in the documents is the insinuation that WikiLeaks withheld an email. This is a position that even the authors were clear they couldn’t take, as there are other explanations and there is nothing to contradict WikiLeaks’ statement that they published all of the Syrian emails they received in any sort of usable format. There is some evidence to corroborate this.

There is at least one set of hacked Syrian emails that WikiLeaks didn’t publish, and comes from a period after the alleged email about Russian-Syrian finance. I reviewed this set and it doesn’t include the time period that the email in question is from. The limited date range for these emails don’t make it possible to authenticate or disprove the existence of the email cited by the Daily Dot. However, they are a very good indication that WikiLeaks didn’t receive all of the hacked emails. It’s quite possible that this is due to FBI involvement, as both the hacker providing the files and the individual receiving them were apparently operating as FBI informants at the time. (If the documents were leaked with malice towards WikiLeaks, it’s likely they were also meant to be a painful reminder of two individuals that had been turned and used against the organization.) The batch of Syria emails I have a copy of, and others, were likely either sent to different sources as bait or simply prevented from being properly received by WikiLeaks.

To help us understand the full context of the documents, I encourage the Daily Dot to publish the documents received. While the initial decision “not to publish the documents concerning RevoluSec’s activities at this time out of concern the hackers may be identified, captured, and possibly harmed in their home countries, which include Yemen and Syria” is understandable, this doesn’t prevent the documents from being redacted and responsibly released.

 

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