3:21 AM AKDT, July 5, 2012
LONDON -- WikiLeaks said Thursday it has begun publishing some 2.4 million e-mails from Syrian politicians, government ministries and companies dating back to 2006.
The e-mails, which are in a range of languages including Arabic and Russian, come from the ministries of presidential affairs, finance, information and foreign affairs, among others.
According to WikiLeaks, the e-mails "shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and economy, but they also reveal how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another."
WikiLeaks, which facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, has published about 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, causing embarrassment to the government and others. It has also published hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents relating to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Its founder, Julian Assange, was arrested in Britain in 2010 over allegations of rape and sex crime charges in Sweden.
Two women have accused Assange of sexually assaulting them in August 2010 when he was visiting Sweden in connection with a WikiLeaks release of internal U.S. military documents.
He has been arrested in absentia, Swedish prosecutors have said. Swedish authorities want to question him about the allegations, which he denies.
Assange has been fighting extradition ever since, saying the allegations are retribution for his organization's disclosure of American secrets. His bail conditions included staying every night at the home of a supporter outside of London.
Assange applied for asylum to Ecuador on June 19 and has been inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since. It is unclear when Ecuador will make a decision on the asylum request.
He sought refuge at the embassy five days after the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom dismissed a bid to reopen his appeal of the decision to send him to Sweden -- his last option in British courts.
A representative for the WikiLeaks founder said Assange will not honor a notice served to him by British police requiring him to turn himself to authorities.
"This should not be considered any sign of disrespect," said Susan Benn of the Julian Assange defense fund, who read the statement.
Benn said the United States had empaneled a grand jury in its goal to press charges against Assange. Turning himself in would have started a process that would end with Assange being extradited to the United States, she said.
"It is clear that there is a plan to bring Julian Assange to the United States," she said.
Citing what she called cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of the alleged source of leaked documents, Pfc. Bradley Manning, Benn said that sending Assange to the United States "would be a violation of his rights."
Police say Assange is in violation of his bail by staying at the embassy, and that ignoring the notice to turn himself in is a further violation.