Following the publication of the 'Erdoğan Files', whistleblowing platform WikiLeaks has been criticised for tweeting a link to archives holding personal and sensitive data of 'every female voter in 79 out of 81 provinces in Turkey'.
On July 20, WikiLeaks released nearly 300,000 emails claiming to be from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party, AKP, on its website in a searchable format. The cache of emails – which were reportedly obtained a week before the attempted military coup in the country - covered 762 mail boxes from dates between 2010 to 2015.
WikiLeaks noted at the time of the release the emails were mostly used for dealing with the world and not "the most sensitive internal matters" of the AKP.
Yet according to Zeynep Tufekci, a Turkish academic and computer programmer, WikiLeaks – by publishing a link to the (now deleted) databases on its Twitter account during publicity for the Erdoğan Files – put "millions of ordinary, innocent people, especially millions of women in Turkey" in potential danger.
It is believed this data - mainly political voting records - is the same content as emerged back in April when hacked details of almost 50 million Turkish citizens appeared online. WikiLeaks, for its part, has stressed it has never hosted the controversial content on its own website – and instead maintains it only linked to the records previously leaked by another publication.
In an in-depth article on The Huffington Post, Tufekci asserted: "[WikiLeaks] posted links on social media to its millions of followers via multiple channels to a set of leaked massive databases containing sensitive and private information of millions of ordinary people, including a special database of almost all adult women in Turkey.
"[The leak] contains spreadsheets of private, sensitive information of what appears to be every female voter in 79 out of 81 provinces in Turkey, including their home addresses and other private information, sometimes including their cellphone numbers.
"If these women are members of Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (known as the AKP), the dumped files also contain their Turkish citizenship ID, which increases the risk to them as the ID is used in practising a range of basic rights and accessing services. The Istanbul file alone contains more than a million women's private information, and there are 79 files, with most including information of many hundreds of thousands of women."
Tufekci claims she confirmed the legitimacy of these files by asking "dozens of friends and family members" about the accuracy of the leaked data. Many, she said, said it contained "correct private information." A further breakdown of the content of the link can be found here.
"Let's remember that, every year in Turkey, hundreds of women are murdered, most often by current or ex-husbands or boyfriends, and thousands of women leave their homes or go into hiding, seeking safety," Tufekci said.
"I've long been critical of the AKP's censorship practices in Turkey and will continue to speak out," she continued. "But there is not a single good reason to put so many men and women in such danger of identity theft, harassment and worse — especially after the country was rocked by a bloody coup targeting this political party."
After publishing the article – which has been widely shared on social media – Tufekci was blocked by the WikiLeaks Twitter account. Meanwhile, the Erdoğan Files content was quickly overshadowed by another leak from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) which, unlike the prior release, is proving to have real political ramifications in the US.
[Update: Information analyst Michael Best has said he uploaded the files in question. He wrote on Twitter: "Short version is @WikiLeaks did not give me the files, they only tweeted my link. I agree with the file's removal."]