WASHINGTON — A delegation from Australia's WikiLeaks Party visited with top Syrian officials in Damascus last week as part of a "solidarity delegation" to oppose Western intervention in the civil war.
"The WikiLeaks Party will participate in a solidarity delegation to Syria to promote peace and reconciliation," read a post on the party's website from Dec. 22. The delegation "consists of representatives from The Wikieaks [sic] Party, academics and activists on Syrian issues."
"The WikiLeaks Party was the first party in Australia to warn of the deadly consequences of any Western military intervention in Syria," the post continues. "It went further by questioning the credibility of the excuses of such intervention based on unsubstantiated reports of the Syrian Army's use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. Such claims that reminded us the same excuses used to invade Iraq. Such claims that turned out to be no more than fabrications and lies."
A Syrian TV report (above) shows members meeting with top regime officials like the prime minister, the deputy foreign minister, and the health minister. In an interview at 3:45 in the segment, WikiLeaks Party chairman and Julian Assange's father John Shipton says, "We'll continue to expose the truth to the Australian people and to our international audience, and next year we will set up an office in Damascus."
The delegation included Tim Anderson, a professor at the University of Sydney who was convicted in 1989 on charges relating to the 1978 Sydney Hilton Hotel bombing, though he was later acquitted.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange ran as a WikiLeaks Party candidate for an Australian senate seat this year and vowed to run again with the party after he lost.
Representative for WikiLeaks and the WikiLeaks Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Anderson was convicted but failed to say that he was later acquitted.
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.