WikiLeaks released roughly 300,000 hacked internal documents in Turkey last week, after a military coup attempt failed to unseat controversial strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, documents that the group led by Australian former computer hacker Julian Assange said would reveal deep secrets of the power structure in Turkey.
But experts now say that the WikiLeaks documents appear to contain no damaging or even interesting information about the Erdogan government — few if any were even sent or received by anyone in Erdogan’s circle of power — but other information promoted by Wikileaks as part of the same dump has put the lives of almost every woman in Turkey in danger, according to a report in the Huffington Post by an expert on Turkish politics.
— Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) July 25, 2016
According to the HuffPo report by University of North Carolina Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci, a native of Turkey, the documents contain nothing newsworthy, after several days of “extensive searching” by teams of journalists and political activists.
“I am not aware of anything ‘newsworthy’ being uncovered. According to the collective searching capacity of long-term activists and journalists in Turkey, none of the ‘Erdogan emails’ appear to be emails actually from Erdogan or his inner circle,” Tufecki wrote. “Nobody seems to be able to find a smoking gun exposing people in positions of power and responsibility.”
The upload, for some reason, included spreadsheets of personal information, including home addresses and phone numbers, of every woman voter in 79 provinces. There are 81 provinces in Turkey. WikiLeaks posted a link to the database on its Twitter feed.
The following video news report contains information on the original WikiLeaks document dump in Turkey.
Women who are affiliated with Erdogan’s ruling AKP party had additional information posted, including their national identity card numbers.
Wikileaks responded in a series of Twitter posts denying that the organization posted the database of women’s information, saying that WikiLeaks posted only the emails.
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) July 27, 2016
Those emails, according to the HuffPo report, consisted mainly of birthday wishes, recipes, email spam, and other mundane matters.
The database has since been deleted, but how many times it was accessed or downloaded while online remains uncertain.
“We are talking about millions of women whose private, personal information has been dumped into the world, with nary an outcry,” Tufekci wrote. “Their addresses are out there for every stalker, ex-partner, disapproving relative or random crazy to peruse as they wish. And let’s remember that, every year in Turkey, hundreds of women are murdered, most often by current or ex-husbands or boyfriends, and thousands of women leave their homes or go into hiding, seeking safety.”
The practice of revealing the private details of unsuspecting individuals online is known as “doxxing.”
At least 265 people were killed in a night of fighting during the violent coup attempt on July 15, according to the New York Times, and the attempt led Erdogan to “purge” his political enemies from the military and government.
Erdogan also ordered online access to WikiLeaks blocked, leading to widespread accusations of censorship, and reporting that the WikiLeaks document dump must indeed have contained information damaging to the government.
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Even exiled American document leaker Edward Snowden weighed in via his Twitter account, saying that the perceived censorship validated the WikiLeaks release.
WikiLeaks in its Twitter feed, which is believed to be operated by WikiLeaks founder Assange, went on to accuse Tufekci of “running flak for Erdogan.”
@zeynep Correct your baseless story and stop running flak for Erodogan or we will file a formal complaint with HuffintonPost & others.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 25, 2016
In fact, Tufecki is a prominent critic of the Erdogan regime, who had been stranded in Turkey during the coup, according to an article in New York Magazine.
“As bad as WikiLeaks’ mistakes were, they were only compounded by the respected outlets that uncritically echoed the organization’s claims,” wrote New York Magazine reporter Jess Singal. “Or, worse, unwittingly distorted the emails’ contents with context-free selections.”
WikiLeaks thrust itself back into United States politics last week with the release of thousands of emails apparently hacked from Democratic National Committee servers, a release that caused a furor on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.
[Photos By Hannah Peters/Adam Berry/Getty Images]