According to leaked U.S. court documents, the "Syria Files" archive published by WikiLeaks in 2012 omitted records of a $2.25 billion transaction between the Syrian regime and a government-owned Russian bank.
The Daily Dot, which obtained the court records from an anonymous source after being placed under seal by the Manhattan federal court, reports the court records detail how a group of hacktivists breached the Syrian government’s networks and extracted emails about major bank transactions made by the Syrian regime.
The majority of these emails appeared in WikiLeaks as “The Syria Files,” but the $2.25 billion exchange from the Central Bank of Syria to Russia’s VTB bank was excluded from the archive.
Speculation that WikiLeaks may have motives to protect Russia has mounted since 2010, when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threatened to post Russian secret intelligence files online, reports Time. After notifying pro-government Moscow newspaper the Daily Izvestia of his plans to leak information, an officer from Russia’s secret police anonymously reported to Russian news site LifeNews that with "the will and the relevant orders, [WikiLeaks] can be made inaccessible forever."
Following this exchange, Assange reportedly began to associate more heavily with the Russian government. The alleged secret intelligence files were never leaked, and just a couple months later The New York Times reports the Kremlin issued a visa for Assange to live within the country. By April 2012, Kremlin-backed network Russia Today recruited Assange to host Russian talk show, “The World Tomorrow.”
Despite his relationship with the famously censor-friendly Russian media, close collaborator Sulette Dreyfus has indicated Assange’s sole motivation is “a deep-seated belief that governments and other large and powerful institutions must be held in check to safeguard the rights of individuals” according to The New York Times. But others have characterized Assange’s relationship with WikiLeaks as deeply personal, sometimes obscuring the organization’s goals with his own personal grudges.
“I was struck by how insistently [Assange] steered the conversation away from matters of principle to personal slights against him, and his plans for payback,” Alex Gibney, director of the WikiLeaks documentary, wrote. “He demanded personal ‘intel’ on others I had interviewed, and dismissed questions about the organization by saying, ‘I am WikiLeaks’ repeatedly.”
Another WikiLeaks collaborator added: “He views everything through the prism of how he’s treated. America and Hillary Clinton have caused him trouble, and Russia never has.”
A spokesperson for WikiLeaks has denied withholding Russian correspondence to the Daily Dot, claiming the report is “speculation” and “is false.” The spokesperson then went on to say the Daily Dot will receive equivalent attention from WikiLeaks for pursuing the story, saying the news source can be sure WikiLeaks will “return the favor one day.”