WikiLeaks is to publish more than 5 million emails from a private U.S. security firm with links to government intelligence agencies and some the world's largest companies, the site announced Monday.
It is thought the tranche of emails snatched by hackers could shed light on the relationship between the government and private security analysts Stratfor, which is likened to a shadow CIA.
The emails are believed to have come from Stratfor's servers, which were breached by online hacktivists Anonymous in December, Time magazine reported.
According to WikiLeaks, the emails date from July 2004 to December 2011 and contain information about the U.S. government's attempts to shut down WikiLeaks and attack its leader Julian Assange.
They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal's Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, WikiLeaks said in statement.
The emails show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.
The pairing of Anonymous and WikiLeaks is a new development in the online war between activist groups and government authorities.
Members of Anonymous told Wired magazine the collaboration would continue, and could include a series of hacks to be released every Friday for the foreseeable future.
This is a deplorable, unfortunate -- and illegal -- breach of privacy, Stratfor said in a statement.
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.
It also emerged today Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with releasing the infamous Cablegate information to WikiLeaks in 2010, has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
WikiLeaks gained international notoriety after publishing 250,000 secretive cables between U.S. embassies that contained embarrassing observations and revelations about foreign dignitaries by diplomats.
Speaking Monday about the latest release, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Reuters: Here we have a private intelligence firm, relying on informants from the U.S. government, foreign intelligence agencies with questionable reputations and journalists.
What is of grave concern is that the targets of this scrutiny are, among others, activist organizations fighting for a just cause.