Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How the Assad emails came to light

Syrian activists say a scrap of paper from a government worker gave them a window into the ruling couple's lives


Robert Booth and Mona Mahmood, Wednesday 14 March 2012

"In late March last year, Syrian opposition activists say, a young government worker in Damascus nervously handed a scrap of paper to a friend. On it were four handwritten codes that the friend was instructed to pass to a small group of exiled Syrians who would know what to do with them.

The paper contained two email addresses: and They are thought to have been the personal email usernames and passwords of the president, Bashar al-Assad, and his wife, Asma.

For the next nine months they were to offer a cell of activists an extraordinary window into what appeared to be the private lives of Syria's first family and their attempts to turn around the country's steady descent towards the abyss.

In June – three months later than the original mole had intended – the email details found their way to two Syrian professionals in a Gulf state. Both had recently become active in the nascent opposition movement in exile after spending most of their adult lives as silent opponents of the regime.

The uprising in the southern Syrian city of Deraa on 15 March had empowered them, as it had hundreds of thousands of others in the totalitarian state. They were now determined to do what they could to bring an end to more than four decades of rule by the Assad clan.

"It was clear who we were dealing with," said one of the activists. "This was the president and his wife. There was no doubt."....."

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