WikiLeaks on Monday announced it is publishing millions of confidential e-mails from Texas-based intelligence firm Stratfor over the past seven years.
The leaked e-mails, which are dated from July 2004 to December 2011, show “the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations,” including Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and government agencies, Wikileaks said in a statement.
Stratfor, which calls itself a global intelligence agency, said two months ago that its computer networks were hacked, which hacker collective Anonymous claimed responsibility for. E-mail addresses and credit card information were taken in the breach.
WikiLeaks said the 5 million e-mails it obtained show that Stratfor targets individuals on behalf of their government and corporate clients, and often uses cash bribes in secret to obtain information. The intelligence company has amassed a worldwide network of informants who are paid through Swiss bank accounts and via pre-paid credit cards.
“Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world,” the website said, adding that the list of informants and some of the records of payments were also obtained. One informant, code named “Geronimo,” is receiving payments of $1,200 a month.
The anti-secrecy website also claimed Stratfor attempted to “subvert” WikiLeaks, with “more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange.”
The company also has close ties with the U.S. government and often recruits former staff members but also held deals with journalists and news organizations, including Reuters and the Kiev Post, the website said.
In a statement, Stratfor denied WikiLeaks’ claims, calling the hacking and publishing of its e-mails an illegal breach of privacy. “Some of the e-mails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic,” the firm 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 reads.
After its operational procedures were called into question, Stratfor said it has a network of sources around the world and obtained them “in a straightforward manner.”“Stratfor is not a government organization, nor is it affiliated with any government. The e-mails are private property. Like all private e-mails, they were written casually, with no expectation anyone other than the sender and recipient would ever see them. They should be read as such,” the company stated.