Just a few days after the failed military coup attempt in Turkey, which cost more than 200 lives and began an era of mass incarcerations and terminations all across the country, WikiLeaks dumped a searchable collection of 294,548 emails on the internet.
The organization claimed the emails were leaked from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
In response, the Turkish government blocked the website, which promoted links to the databases via its social media accounts but did not host it on its own site, to prevent its citizens from accessing the media.
This, in turn, prompted the rest of the world to yell “freedom of speech” and decry “media censorship.”
Even NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden chimed in.
How to authenticate a leak: https://t.co/DWIaLr59CJ— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) July 20, 2016
“The material was obtained a week before the attempted coup. However, WikiLeaks has moved forward its publication schedule in response to the government’s post-coup purges,” read a note posted on WikiLeaks. “We have verified the material and the source, who is not connected, in any way, to the elements behind the attempted coup, or to a rival political party or state.”
The leaks were supposed to expose the wrongdoings and corruption scandals within the Erdogan government, but as Turkish activist and University of North Carolina Professor Zeynep Tufekci revealed on The Huffington Post, none of the emails appear to be actually received or sent from Erdogan or his inner circle.
In fact, the leak reportedly includes chain mails, birthday wishes, recipes, spam, wishes and condolences, job applications and requests to fix potholes.
While most of the local and western media focused on how many times someone mentioned a political figure’s name (that included newspaper articles and links), it seemingly ignored one of the most dangerous and significant things about the leak — the personal information of millions of Turkish citizens, particularly women.
Along with all the unimportant documents, the leak also contains several spreadsheets of private details about every female voter in 79 out of 81 provinces in the country. This includes their home addresses and phone numbers.
To make the matter worse, if these women are members of AKP — the party targeted by the coup plotters — the files also contain their national citizenship ID, increasing the risk of identity theft, harassment, stalkers and worse.
“We are talking about millions of women whose private, personal information has been dumped into the world, with nary an outcry,” wrote Tufekci. “Their addresses are out there for every stalker, ex-partner, disapproving relative or random crazy to peruse as they wish. And let’s remember that, every year in Turkey, hundreds of women are murdered, most often by current or ex-husbands or boyfriends, and thousands of women leave their homes or go into hiding, seeking safety.”
Another list of AKP members (both alive and deceased) has also been dumped online, containing sensitive information about millions of men and women all across the country. There is also another file with the names and information about hundreds of thousands of AKP election monitors, who are apparently the most active members of the party.
The question is, does publishing someone’s private details constitute journalism? Is putting someone in danger by leaking their contact information and home addresses a form of “freedom of speech”? Does discretion equal to censorship?
The answer is simple: No.
This is nothing but violation of privacy. The WikiLeaks exposé has not yet unrevealed anything newsworthy — except that exile leader Fethullah Gullen was mentioned some 1,400 times in the email dump, which, by the way, also included search results from a number of news articles containing his name.
However, it has placed millions of Turkish women in great danger for no apparent reason at all.