Google planned to help Syrian rebels bring down Assad regime, leaked Hillary Clinton emails claim

One of Google's interactive tools was reportedly meant to encourage defections from the Assad government, emails leaked by WikiLeaks have alleged

Click to follow
The Independent Tech

An interactive tool created by Google was designed to encourage Syrian rebels and help bring down the Assad regime, Hillary Clinton's leaked emails have reportedly revealed.

By tracking and mapping defections within the Syrian leadership, it was reportedly designed to encourage more people to defect and 'give confidence' to the rebel opposition.

It was allegedly described as a “pretty cool idea” by senior Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan, and Google said it had enlisted the help of Al Jazeera to broadcast the tool in Syria.

"We believe this can have an important impact."

Google executive Jared Cohen on the defection-tracking tool

Thousands of Clinton's personal emails have been published and indexed by WikiLeaks, and some reveal interesting details about the relationship between the State Department and major corporations.

The email detailing Google's defection tracker purportedly came from Jared Cohen, a Clinton advisor until 2010 and now-President of Jigsaw, formerly known as Google Ideas, the company's New York-based policy think tank.

In a July 2012 email to members of Clinton's team, which the WikiLeaks release alleges was later forwarded to the Secretary of State herself, Cohen reportedly said: “My team is planning to launch a tool on Sunday that will publicly track and map the defections in Syria and which parts of the government they are coming from.”

“Our logic behind this is that while many people are tracking the atrocities, nobody is visually representing and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition.”

The email said Google would be “partnering with Al Jazeera” who would take “primary ownership” of the tool, maintaining it and publicising it in Syria.

Cohen asked the Clinton team to tell him if there was anything the company needed to think about before launching the tool, before adding: “We believe this can have an important impact.”

The visualisation was eventually published by Al Jazeera in English and Arabic, and Jigsaw's website claims it became one of the site's most-viewed visualisations. 

A post about the tool on the site claims it successfully showed "patterns and trends" in support for the regime, but makes no mention of encouraging defectors or helping the opposition.

WikiLeaks has previously been responsible for publicising links between Google and high-ranking State Department officials, and founder Julian Assange's 2014 book When Google Met WikiLeaks accused the company of helping to further the US government's foreign policy agenda.

As the Daily Mail points out, the news comes as Google reveals its plans to expand internet access in Cuba, in an announcement timed to coincide with Barack Obama's historic visit to the island.

Clinton's thoughts on Google's plan were not revealed in the WikiLeaks release, but she reportedly instructed an aide to print out Cohen's email for later reference.

Google did not provide a comment.

Comments