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On Thursday, WikiLeaks published more than 30,000 documents and 170,000 emails from Sony Pictures, obtained from a hack that has been sourced to North Korea in anticipation of the studio’s release of The Interview.
The Julian Assange website noted in a press release that “whilst some stories came out at the time, the original archives, which were not searchable, were removed before the public and journalists were able to do more than scratch the surface.”
In a move that could trigger another round of embarrassing prying into Sony affairs, WikiLeaks has now published those documents in a searchable format.
“This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation,” says Assange. “It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geo-political conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”
In what could be a preemptive move to defend the newsworthy nature of what’s been published, WikiLeaks is stressing some of the documents with political and policy implications. These include Sony’s reactions to the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade treaty that is presently getting Congressional attention. There’s also the studio’s involvement in anti-piracy causes.
Sony Pictures Entertainment condemned the release of the documents.
“The cyber-attack on Sony Pictures was a malicious criminal act, and we strongly condemn the indexing of stolen employee and other private and privileged information on WikiLeaks,” Sony said in a statement. “The attackers used the dissemination of stolen information to try to harm SPE and its employees, and now WikiLeaks regrettably is assisting them in that effort. We vehemently disagree with WikiLeaks’ assertion that this material belongs in the public domain and will continue to fight for the safety, security, and privacy of our company and its more than 6,000 employees.”
WikiLeaks says it has documents about the connections between Sony and the Democratic Party, from “SPE’s CEO [Michael] Lynton attending dinner with President [Barack] Obama at Martha’s Vineyard” to an alleged effort to get around campaign donation limits to support New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The website also points to Lynton’s involvement on the board of trustees of RAND Corporation, a policy think tank on the edge of the military sector, and how Sony reached out to the State Department and the NSA about North Korea’s complaints about The Interview.
With an interest in intelligence matters that once prompted WikiLeaks to publish state department cables, WikiLeaks appears especially fascinated by Sony “collecting ‘intelligence’ on rival pictures.” It cites as an example the budget breakdown for Oliver Stone‘s Snowden.
In December, as hackers slowly released Sony Picture documents with threats to the company about releasing The Interview, federal law enforcement reportedly made cyber counter-measures to impede the flow of information. WikiLeaks presents a digital operation that could be more resilient to such digital attacks. Sony has previously made legal warnings to those in the media publishing its trade secrets.
“WikiLeaks has a commitment to preserving the historical archive,” states the press release. “This means ensuring archives that have made it to the public domain remain there regardless of legal or political pressure, and in a way that is accessible and useable to the public. WikiLeaks’ publication of The Sony Archives will ensure this database remains accessible to the public for years to come.”