Notorious whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has published five million emails from a geopolitical analysis company that Reuters likened to a “shadow CIA.”
The emails, stolen in late December from the U.S.-based company, could reveal private information on Stratfor readers and subscribers, the details of sensitive sources, and even throw light on the intelligence-gathering community, Reuters reported.
According to a WikiLeaks statement accompanying the posting of the documents, they reveal the inner workings of the intelligence publisher, which works with companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and various government agencies.
“The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods,” the website reads. It cites a Dec. 6, 2011, email from CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
"[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control ... This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase," the email reportedly reads.
The company released a statement early Monday morning on its Facebook page describing the release of the emails as “deplorable.”
“This is a deplorable, unfortunate — and illegal — breach of privacy,” the company 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 victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them.”
WikiLeaks did not say how it had acquired access to the vast haul of internal and external correspondence of the Austin, Texas company, Reuters said. However, hackers linked to the activist collective that calls itself Anonymous said in January that they had stolen the emails and planned to publish the data -- so the public would know the "truth" about Stratfor operations.
Members of Anonymous with intimate knowledge of the hack said that WikiLeaks was a natural partner.
“WikiLeaks has great means to publish and disclose,” one member told Wired. “Also, they work together with media in a way we don’t.”
Anonymous claimed at the time that the data it had stolen was not encrypted, a fact security analysts said would be a major embarrassment for a company related to the security industries.
The company stressed that this release did not represent a fresh hack of its servers.
“Stratfor's data systems, which we have worked hard to rebuild since the December hack, remain secure and protected,” the company said.