This is a personal statement, not written on behalf of the WGSPM.
Since early 2019 I have been working on and off on a briefing note about the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), Tsamota and other businesses controlled by William Harry Wiley that had received funding from the FCO and from other governments. This was originally one section of a multi-authored briefing note on FCO funding of ARK, Mayday Rescue and CIJA. Following James Le Mesurier’s death in November 2019 we published the article on Mayday Rescue as a separate briefing note. We contacted Wiley in February 2020 with a series of questions (reproduced below) about irregularities in his businesses. He did not reply. Unknown to us, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) had just concluded a detailed investigation into CIJA alleging fraud, far more damaging than anything we could have written. OLAF had passed recommendations to prosecuting authorities in three jurisdictions. This story became widely known in May 2020 after a newspaper article was published in the Netherlands. From documents later obtained through a subsequent freedom of information request, we later learned that Wiley had sent a letter to CIJA’s donors at this time attempting to rebut OLAF’s allegations of fraud. This contains redacted passages that appear to allude to an investigation by The Grayzone in 2019 and to what Wiley believed to be an ongoing investigation by WGSPM members.
After February 2020 I worked only occasionally on the CIJA investigation. In December 2020 I received an anonymous email offering to answer questions about Syria. I wrote back with a few questions, and mentioned that we were investigating CIJA. The correspondent at this stage did not reveal any affiliation. In response to my question about CIJA the correspondent alleged that Wiley is a career CIA officer, and provided a summary of his career. From checking open sources I found apparent confirmation of this alleged affiliation, and other indications that Wiley was hiding matters in his background. The correspondent offered to provide more information, so I continued the dialogue.
After the initial exchanges, the correspondent began to drop hints and eventually declared the name “Ivan” and the persona of a a Russian intelligence officer . As I have no access to official secrets, this did not concern me. As a citizen investigator, I cultivate contacts with all sorts of people who have relevant information, including anonymous sources and some identified sources whose activities I do not endorse. As I have stated in public, my underlying concern is not with the Syrian conflict or any other foreign policy issue, but with the subversion of British parliamentary government by what I now recognize to be a “deep state” operating partly through private cutouts. I kept an open mind about who I was talking to. I recognized attempts at entrapment, and also recognized that some of the material being provided was false. However as apparently useful information and documents were being provided, I maintained the dialogue and to encourage the correspondent to provide more information I provided information of my own about the activities of people with whom I had been directly or indirectly in contact. Some of this was embellished to give the impression of a coordinated network that in reality does not exist. I should make clear that the WGSPM does not exist as an entity other than a loose group of people who occasionally co-author articles or comment on each other’s drafts.
I now understand that this was an elaborate entrapment operation overseen by Wiley and his associates, directed against me, and that (possibly accurate) information about his real affiliation was provided as bait. It is clear from the emails that a key objective of the CIJA correspondent was to divert me from writing about the story of fraud at CIJA and related companies, and to writing instead about CIJA’s connections with intelligence agencies (at least some of which are documented in open sources). As some of the details about Wiley’s alleged status as a career CIA officer could be confirmed in open sources. I was diverted down this road for some time before more information made it clear that the fraud story was solid and the alleged CIA affiliation (whether true or not) was irrelevant. The CIJA correspondent asserted among other things that the OLAF report alleging fraud at Tsamota and CIJA had been retracted, that a Belgian court judgement requiring Tsamota to repay money had been reversed or disregarded, and that Wiley had documents to confirm this. It’s now clear that all this was false, and that one of Wiley’s objectives was to find out how much we knew.
This was a clever deception operation, and the people on the other end found one of my weaknesses: an obsessiveness with digging for information about what I am investigating. In pursuit of what looks like discovery of the truth my judgement and common sense (though not my technical ability to evaluate evidence once it is available) can get left behind. The people on the other end of this sting managed to get me to reveal information provided by others that was not intended to be shared, along with other information that may have been embellished. This was a failure on my part for which I accept responsibility and have apologized to those concerned. These emails were not intended to be made public, and they contain casual and offhand comments not written with the care I would use when writing for publication.
We have however learned quite a lot about our adversaries from this operation. The effort that was put into this sting makes clear yet again what we have known since the attacks on the WGSPM began in 2018: that we are viewed as a serious threat by some powerful actors. Now that we know what Wiley doesn’t want us to write about – the well-documented story of fraud at CIJA – we shall of course cover it in detail.
Update 26 Mar 2021: the briefing note on CIJA is posted here:
Email sent to Wiley on 24 Feb 2020
Dear Mr Wiley
The Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media is preparing a briefing note that will include an investigation of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability and its relation to your other business interests. As I’m sure you appreciate, we have to put some questions to give you a chance to rebut what we write and correct anything we have got wrong. If you prefer not to answer these questions, please acknowledge this email so that we do not make further efforts to show that we have tried to contact you.
- We have identified the following nine companies in four jurisdictions as controlled by you. Is this list correct and complete?
Stichting SJAC KvK 59036699
Stichting “The Commission for International Justice and Accountability” KvK 56509839
The Commission for International Justice and Accountability ASBL, number 0548.717.617
Tsamota Good Governance Foundation VZW, number 0543.848,514
TSAMOTA NATURAL RESOURCES LIMITED (09610148)
TSAMOTA GROUP LIMITED (09608115)
TSAMOTA CRIMINAL EVIDENCE SOLUTIONS LIMITED (09461746)
TSAMOTA CERTIFICATION LIMITED (09134802)
Tsamota Group Ltd (company number C63303)
- FCO expenditure records show payments to “Syrian Commission for Justice & Accountability” in 2014 and to “Commission for Justice and Accountability” or “Commission for International Justice and Accountability” from 2014 to 2020. Which of your companies or non-profit associations received these payments from the FCO?
- From the court judgement in the case that you brought in the US District Court of Wisconsin it is clear that Tsamota Certification Limited was trading from 2015 onwards, But you filed accounts for Tsamota Certification Limited in the UK for this period as a dormant company. Can you explain this?
- It is a legal requirement in Belgium for a nonprofit association (ASBL or VZW) to file annual accounts. But neither of your two Belgian ASBLs – The Commission for International Justice and Accountability and Tsamota Good Governance Foundation VZW – have filed any accounts as far as we can see. Can you explain this?
Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media