A British professor corresponded for months with a man called only “Ivan”, seeking assistance to discredit an organisation that helps bring Syrian war criminals to justice. He also asked “Ivan” to investigate other British academics and journalists. The email exchange, seen by the BBC, reveals how, a decade on from the start of the Syrian conflict, a battle is still being waged in the field of information and misinformation.
One chilly December morning there was a ping as an email from a professor at Edinburgh University dropped into Bill Wiley’s inbox. The subject line read: Questions for William Wiley.
Wiley, who runs an organisation that salvages documents for use in war crimes trials from abandoned Syrian government buildings, recognised the sender’s name.
Prof Paul McKeigue, an epidemiologist from Edinburgh University, had been in touch once before asking similar questions about Wiley’s NGO – the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (Cija) – for a critical report he was writing with a professor from Bristol and a former professor who once taught at Sheffield.
Knowing what he did of McKeigue’s view that Western-funded NGOs are acting on behalf of the CIA and MI6 to blacken the image of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, Wiley felt sure their report would accuse Cija of distorting the truth about torture and murder in Syrian jails.
Over the last decade Cija’s undercover investigators have salvaged more than 1.3 million documents created by a bureaucratic regime that is obsessed with paperwork, even when it concerns the brutal killing of its own people. All that paperwork is being held in an archive at Cija’s headquarters in a secret location in Europe. [Continue reading…]