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WikiLeaks posts Sony Pictures documents, angers studio

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  • Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino

LOS ANGELES » Sony Pictures Entertainment reacted harshly Thursday to word that WikiLeaks, a web portal devoted to disclosing confidential information from governments, corporations and other large and powerful entities, had posted a searchable archive of emails and other documents stolen from the studio last year by hackers.

Calling the original attack “a malicious criminal act,” Sony said in a statement that “we strongly condemn the indexing of stolen employee and other private and privileged information.”

That was a response to a post on WikiLeaks in which the organization’s editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, said the materials belonged in the public domain because they “show the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation.”

In a statement introducing the archive, WikiLeaks said it contained 30,287 documents, along with 173,132 emails from more than 2,200 addresses.

“It is newsworthy and at the center of a geopolitical conflict,” Assange wrote of the archive. “It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”

U.S. law enforcement officials attributed the original hacking, which occurred in November, to the North Korean government, which was angered over Sony’s comic film parody of its leader, Kim Jong Un, in “The Interview.” Emails and other material taken from the studio were widely published and posted by news organizations, which culled the material from drop-boxes established by the hackers.

In adopting and indexing the material, WikiLeaks said it meant to ensure its continued availability in the face of a legal and public relations effort by Sony to push users away from the material. Lawyer David Boies, representing Sony, sent letters warning news organizations against possessing or publishing stolen company material.

Whether because of the warnings or fatigue with the story of Sony’s woes, interest in the trove had waned in recent months, although not before Sony executives, including its chief executive, Michael Lynton, and the chairwoman of its film operation, Amy Pascal, were embarrassed by some public revelations. For Pascal, who resigned her post under pressure in February in favor of a producing deal with the studios, those included a rude exchange discussing President Barack Obama’s purported preference for black-themed movies.

WikiLeaks on Thursday insisted that reporters had done little more than “scratch the surface” of a file that it says includes material describing Sony connections to the Democratic Party and the RAND Corp., of which Lynton is a trustee.

Sony Pictures has been embroiled in a legal fight over claims that it negligently allowed employees’ private information to be stolen. In its statement, the company said it was fighting for the “safety, security and privacy” of its 6,000 employees.

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