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WikiLeaks to release five million emails stolen from Stratfor

WikiLeaks is making public email stolen from Stratfor, a global security analysis company based in Texas. Hackers broke into Stratfor data systems in December and stole employee emails.

By Reuters / February 27, 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks at a news conference in London, February 27, 2012.

REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

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London

The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks began publishing on Monday more than five million emails from a Texas-based global security analysis company.

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The emails, snatched by hackers, could unmask sensitive sources and throw light on the murky world of intelligence-gathering by the company known as Stratfor, which counts Fortune 500 companies among its subscribers.

Stratfor in a statement shortly after midnight EST (0500 GMT) said the release of its stolen emails was an attempt to silence and intimidate it.

It said it would not be cowed under the leadership of George Friedman, Stratfor's founder and chief executive officer. It said Friedman had not resigned as CEO, contrary to a bogus email circulating on the Internet.

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Some of the emails being published "may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic," the company statement said.

"We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them," the statement said.

WikiLeaks did not say how it had acquired access to the vast haul of internal and external correspondence of the Austin, Texas company, formally known as Strategic Forecasting Inc.

Hackers linked to the loosely organized Anonymous hackers group said at the beginning of the year they had stolen the email correspondence of some 100 of the firm's employees. The group said it planned to publish the data so the public would know the "truth" about Stratfor operations.

Stratfor describes itself as a subscription-based publisher of geopolitical analysis with an intelligence-based approach to gathering information.

WikiLeaks and Anonymous maintain the emails will expose dark secrets about the company. Stratfor said in its statement it had worked hard to build "good sources" in many countries, "as any publisher of global geopolitical analysis would do."

In December, hackers broke into Stratfor's data systems and stole a large number of company emails.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Reuters: "Here we have a private intelligence firm, relying on informants from the U.S. government, foreign intelligence agencies with questionable reputations and journalists."

"What is of grave concern is that the targets of this scrutiny are, among others, activist organizations fighting for a just cause."

Friedman, the chief executive, said on Jan. 11 the thieves would be hard pressed to find anything significant in the stolen emails.

"God knows what a hundred employees writing endless emails might say that is embarrassing, stupid or subject to misinterpretation. ... As they search our emails for signs of a vast conspiracy, they will be disappointed."

MEDIA PARTNERS

People linked to Anonymous took credit for the data theft. "Congrats on the amazing partnership between #Anonymous and #WikiLeaks to make all 5 million mails public," AnonSec Tweeted. AnonSec is one of several Twitter accounts used to promote and organize activities associated with Anonymous.

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