The private intelligence firm Stratfor called the release of 5 million of its e-mails by WikiLeaks a “deplorable, unfortunate and illegal breach of privacy.”
“Some of the e-mails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic,” the Texas-based firm said. “We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them.”, according to CNN.
In a statement released early Monday in Europe (Sunday evening ET), WikiLeaks promised a raft of juicy disclosures about Stratfor, which promotes itself to corporate and government clients as a source of intelligence on international affairs.
WikiLeaks, a website that facilitates the leaking of confidential information, says the documents will be released through a network of more than 25 news outlets and activist groups in the coming weeks.
The first document out was titled “The Stratfor Glossary of Useful, Baffling and Strange Intelligence Terms,” featuring brief and sometimes humorous definitions and blunt assessments of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement.
Others focused on speculation about the health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and who was behind a suspected campaign of sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program.
WikiLeaks has previously published hundreds of thousands of U.S. military and State Department documents, including field reports from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and embassy cables that feature the candid assessments of U.S. diplomats. A U.S. soldier, Pfc. Bradley Manning, faces a court-martial on charges that he leaked the documents to the website.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, meanwhile, is in Britain battling an extradition request from prosecutors in Sweden who want to question him about unrelated accusations of sexual assault. Assange has not been charged with a crime and denies wrongdoing.
Stratfor has been targeted by hackers who have released private data about subscribers in recent months, prompting the company to offer its clients a year of paid identity-protection coverage.
The firm, in a statement released early Monday morning, said that thieves compromised its data systems in December and stole a large number of company e-mails, along with private data about its subscribers, employees and readers.
“Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them,” the company said about the leaked e-mails.
It said the release was “another attempt to silence and intimidate the company, and one we reject.”
“Stratfor will not be silenced and will continue to publish the geopolitical analysis our friends and subscribers have come to rely upon,” the statement said.
Describing the e-mails as private property, Stratfor said they were written casually, with no expectation anyone outside the communication chain would ever see them.
“They should be read as such,” the company said. “Stratfor understands that this hack and the fallout from it, including the disclosures by Wikileaks, have created serious difficulties for our subscribers, friends and employees.”