WikiLeaks publishes 5 mn emails from thinktank Stratfor

Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks Monday published more than five million emails from US-based global security analysis firm Stratfor. The messages were reportedly stolen by hacker group Anonymous.

The emails could unmask the US firm's "sensitive sources" and "throw light on the murky world of intelligence-gathering", the Daily Mail reported.

Stratfor said the release of its stolen emails was an attempt to silence and intimidate it. It said it would not be cowed.

Contrary to internet rumours, Stratfor founder and chief executive officer George Friedman had not resigned, the firm said.

A company statement said some of the emails "may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic".

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

WikiLeaks did not say how it acquired the massive number of correspondence of the Austin, Texas-based company.

Hackers linked to the Anonymous group had said earlier this year that they had stolen the email of around 100 Stratfor employees.

The group had said at that time it planned to publish the data so people would know the "truth" about Stratfor's operations.

Stratfor said it had worked hard to build "good sources" in many countries, "as any publisher of global geopolitical analysis would do".

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

"Here we have a private intelligence firm, relying on informants from the US 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 organisations fighting for a just cause," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

Friedman said in January that 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," he said.

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," a user named AnonSec wrote on Twitter.

AnonSec is one of several Twitter accounts used to promote and organise activities associated with Anonymous.

WikiLeaks in 2010 released secret video battle footage and thousands of US diplomatic cables about wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It said it was working with two dozen media organisations worldwide that have access to a database of the Stratfor emails.

These include US newspaper publisher McClatchy Co., L'Espresso and La Repubblica newspapers in Italy, the NDR/ARD state broadcaster in Germany and Russia Reporter.

According to an activist group called The Yes Men that targets what it views as corporate greed, the Stratfor emails discuss an elaborate hoax the firm staged to criticise Dow Chemical Co's handling of the Bhopal chemical disaster in India.

After Stratfor's computers were hacked twice in December, credit card details of more than 30,000 subscribers to Stratfor publications were posted on the internet.

Australia-born Assange is currently under house arrest in Britain and fighting extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes.

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