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Pro-Assad bias said of WikiLeaks partner

July 6, 2012 at 3:30 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, July 6 (UPI) -- WikiLeaks' release of 2.4 million Syrian e-mails will show Western hypocrisy, said the editor of a partnering Lebanese newspaper accused of pro-regime bias.

"It is a sensitive time in Syria and it is important to sort out what is real and what is fabricated," Ibrahim al-Amin, editor in chief of al-Akhbar, was quoted in his newspaper as saying after the online leak group announced the release of e-mails between Syrian politicians, regime officials and companies dating from 2006 until March of this year.

"One thing is obvious though, the hypocrisy of global politics has reached a new high when dealing with Syria," al-Amin said.

The newspaper, close to Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah Shiite Muslim militant group and political party, has been accused by ideological foes of bias toward Syrian President Bashar Assad and of skewing coverage of the crisis toward the regime.

"If they have access to the e-mails, prior to their publication, it can be assumed that the security services in Damascus will also have advance knowledge," Anshel Pfeffer wrote in the Israeli daily Haaretz.

Others countered the newspaper would balance news coverage with that of Western outlets that would tend to play up Syrian crimes, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The paper receives no support from Iran, Syria or Hezbollah, chief owner Hassan Khalil told The New York Times in December 2010, after al-Akhbar's first team-up with WikiLeaks to become the only Arab newspaper to publish embarrassing U.S. State Department cables -- after which the newspaper's Web site was hacked.

Al-Amin told the Times at the time the newspaper's founding ambitions in 2006 were, "We wanted the U.S. ambassador to wake up in the morning, read it and get upset."

Other news organizations working with WikiLeaks on the Syrian e-mails are from the United States, Egypt, France, Germany and Italy, as well as others that would be made public closer to their publication dates, WikiLeaks said.

In announcing the release of e-mails, WikiLeaks said it sought to "shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and economy." It said the disclosures in the e-mails would embarrass not only Assad but also his adversaries and his ruling Baath Party.

The e-mails would "reveal how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another," WikiLeaks' announcement said.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remained confined to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he is seeking asylum amid efforts to extradite him to Sweden to face allegations of molestation, sexual abuse and rape brought by two women in Stockholm.

Assange says he fears he will be sent to the United States and prosecuted for WikiLeaks' 2010 release of the State Department and U.S. military cables and other documents.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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