Hundreds of emails from Syrian President Bashar Assad’s office were leaked on Monday after an attack by the hacker group Anonymous. One of the email files, which Haaretz has obtained, was a document preparing Assad for his December 2011 interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters.
The target of the attack was the mail server of the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs. Among those whose email was exposed were the Minister of Presidential Affairs Mansour Fadlallah Azzam and Assad’s media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban.
Assad’s TV interview with Walters was memorable for his repeated denials that Syrian citizens were being killed. “We don’t kill our people … no government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person,” Assad told Walters.
About 10 days before the interview, Sheherazad Jaafari - a press attache at the Syrian mission to the United Nations - sent a long email to former Al Jazeera journalist Luna Chebel, who now works in Assad’s bureau. She also sent the email to an aide of Shaaban’s. Jaafari, who was involved in arranging the interview with Walters, also happens to be the daughter of the Syrian ambassador to the UN, Dr. Bashar Jaafari.
Jaafari Jr. wrote: “The major points and dimensions that have been mentioned a lot in the American media are: The idea of violence has been one of the major subjects brought up in every article. They use the phrases ‘The Syrian government is killing its own people,’ ‘Tanks have been used in many cities,’ ‘Airplanes have been used to suppress the peaceful demonstrations,’ and ‘Security forces are criminals and bloody.’”