275k+ Sony files: WikiLeaks publishes massive new cache of hacked docs

Reuters / Mario Anzuoni
Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has released 276,394 new documents stolen from Sony Pictures in November by an unidentified hacker. It adds to 30,000 documents and 173,132 emails released earlier in April.

The new documents are available since Tuesday through the WikiLeaks search service. No public statement from the website came with the publication, but it claimed on Twitter that the dump contains some sensitive legal documents tied to an alleged bribery investigation.

The release of stolen data came after Sony Pictures, a subsidiary of the Japan-based Sony conglomerate, earlier condemned WikiLeaks for releasing hacked data. WikiLeaks said the documents belong to the public domain because they are revealing the inner workings of a powerful company with ties to the US government and military.

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WikiLeaks’ move is being seen by observers as having some justification. For instance, the earlier leaks showed that in an announcement of a biopic of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Sony replaced phrases "US government’s illegal spying operations" and "misuse of power" with more timid "US government’s intelligence gathering" and "actions" respectively, indicating that the company would not risk criticizing the intelligence agency.

The US also wanted Sony's help in countering the terrorist group Islamic State and Russia online.

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The White House blamed North Korea for staging the attack on Sony. Some IT experts doubted Pyongyang's role, saying the hack was likely an inside job. North Korea denied any involvement.

The North Korean connection emerged because the hackers threatened the release of stolen data if Sony released the comedy “The Interview,” which depicts a fictional CIA plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

READ MORE: State Dept. wrote to Sony for help in countering Islamic State, Russian narratives

The previous cache of documents exposed some scandalous details of Sony operations that left several top officials red-faced. Part of it was due to the insulting way the executives discussed actors and other people from the entertainment industry. Then-chairperson Amy Pascal resigned after the leak showed her sending racially-loaded jokes about President Barack Obama over email.

Other revelations were arguably even more embarrassing. CEO Michael Lynton, according to the documents, maneuvered to have his daughter Maise admitted to the prestigious Ivy League Brown University.

In a more sinister development, some private data of people involved in the entertainment industry was made public. For, example the salaries of more than 6,000 Sony Pictures employees were leaked online.