WASHINGTON – Syrian state television and a website controlled by President Bashar Assad's
government published a letter over the weekend, allegedly sent from Yedioth Ahronoth, presenting Syrian exiles who were interviewed
by the newspaper as "traitors."
The fallacy-ridden letter appears to have been printed on Yehioth Ahronoth stationary, and incorrectly describes the manner in which the exiles fled Syria
with the help of US diplomats.
The reports came on the heels of an interview that was published in the newspaper last week, in which two US-based Syrian exiles recount how they were falsely imprisoned and tortured by Syrian security forces.
Moreover, the document contains manipulative statements aiming to implicate individuals who had no connection to the article, while also intending to spark a dispute between Syrian opposition factions. The name of the supposed sender and other details have been removed from the document.
Yedioth Ahronoth stressed Sunday that the publication had nothing to do with the letter.
In last week's interview, the exiles denounced the Assad regime and called on the international community to bomb Syria. The article stirred controversy across the Arab world.
Since the article's release, the Syrian regime made great efforts to uncover the identities of the exiles, whose names were withheld to protect their families back home. Yedioth Ahronoth posited that the fake letter was part of those efforts.
The two interviewees received an asylum in the US and have met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They agreed to talk to the Israeli media in hopes that the Jewish state could help bring about humanitarian intervention in their homeland, which has been marred by a bloody crackdown
on a popular uprising that began in March.
They later told the newspaper that they were not surprised to see the bogus document published by Syrian state media. They have learned from personal experience that the Assad regime is capable of far worse than faking a letter.
"The website that first published the letter is an Assad mouthpiece," another Syria exile told Yedioth Ahronoth. "These are their tactics."
Knesset Member Yitzhak Herzog addressed the letter on Saturday, after speaking with Syrian opposition members abroad.
"The Syrian regime appears to be under great pressure, if it allows a website under its control to fake an official document from a newspaper like Yedioth Ahronoth," he said.