Report: US secretly funded anti-government TV into Syria
The US government secretly funded Syrian opposition groups and an anti-government television broadcast, according to a US State Department cable unveiled by WikiLeaks and reported Monday by The Washington Post.
The recipient of the funds reportedly included the London-based satellite channel Barada TV, which began broadcasting in April 2009 and has had a heavy focus on coverage of the recent protests against the country's leader, Bashar al-Assad, according to the Post's reporting on the document released by the anti-secrecy website, DPA reported.
It was not clear whether the funding for the projects was continuing. An April 2009 cable out of the newly established US embassy in Damascus cited worries that Syrian intelligence was raising questions and looking into US involvement with opposition groups.
In the cable, the top-ranking US diplomat at the time worried that Syrian authorities "would undoubtedly view any US funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change."
The cables showed that the US State Department gave as much as 6 million dollars since 2006 to operate the broadcaster and support other activities, the Post reported. The State Department did not comment when asked by the Post about the cable.
Barada TV is connected to the Europe-based Movement for Justice and Development, which was founded by Syrian dissident exiles. Some of the US money appeared to have been funneled to the broadcaster and opposition groups through the Los Angeles-based non-profit Democracy Council, the report said.