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'Leaked' AKP email on Turkish links with Libyan militants is scam

One of nearly 300,000 emails released by WikiLeaks has been used online for years as an example of a money-making hoax
The email was released by WikiLeaks

A private email published by WikiLeaks as part of a cache of nearly 300,000 pieces of correspondence from Turkey’s ruling AKP appears to link the party with Libyan militants attempting to launder millions of US dollars through Europe.

However, on closer inspection, the email seems to be part of a money-making scam.

The email - one of 294,548 released by Wikileaks on Tuesday evening before the Turkish government blocked access on Wednesday - purports to have been sent in February 2013 by Abdelhakim Belhaj, a well-known Libyan militant.

Belhaj spent years subjected to torture in Libyan prisons after he was forcibly flown back to the country by the CIA in 2004. Released from prison in 2010, he played a key role in the Libyan uprisings, leading the now-defunct Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which participated in battles to bring down Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Sent from the email address [email protected], the message promises a 25 percent share in $15m discovered in a “metal save [sic]” in Gaddafi’s compound in return for help to launder the money through a private company in Spain.

“I also want you to join me as partner in any area you want to invest the fund in your country, if you don't mind,” the email continues.

However, investigation reveals that exactly the same text has been posted online as early as May 2013 as an example of online email scams.

Further copies of the same text have appeared in online forums in December 2014 and October 2015.

All of the correspondence released on Tuesday night was obtained before last weekend’s attempted coup, but WikiLeaks brought their publication forward “in response to the government’s post-coup purges”.

Over 50,000 people have now been either arrested or sacked from their jobs following an attempt by the military to seize power in Turkey.

There were also reports on Wednesday that the team behind a popular whistle-blower account on Twitter, Fuat Avni, had been arrested.

Local media reported that 10 people working within the prime minister’s office had been arrested over suspected involvement with the account.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said one person had been arrested, naming him as Akif Mustafa Kocyigit.

However, the account continued to publish tweets following the reported detention.

One sarcastic tweet published on Wednesday read: “So you have arrested me again. Don’t worry, I am here doing my job”.