WikiLeaks published more than 200,000 internal Sony Pictures Entertainment documents and e-mails, opening a new chapter in the hacking saga that enveloped Sony Corp.’s Hollywood studio late last year.
The release includes 30,287 documents and 173,132 e-mails, sent from or received by more than 2,200 Sony Pictures e-mail addresses, according to a WikiLeaks statement Thursday. The material is searchable, giving legions of journalists and Sony competitors access to the information that was quickly taken down after it was first posted by hackers tied to North Korea.
“This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation,” said Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, known for its unauthorized publication of documents, including classified government communications, since its founding in 2006. “It is newsworthy and at the center of a geo-political conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”
Sony Pictures computers were hacked last year, as the company was preparing to release “The Interview,” a comedy that made fun of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and depicted his assassination on the big screen. U.S. officials blamed that country for the cyber attack, which shut down the studio’s computers and exposed executive and celebrity pay, as well as embarrassing private e-mail exchanges between Sony officials and filmmakers.
Shares of Sony fell 2.8 percent to 3,590 yen as of 9:08 a.m. in Tokyo, paring this year’s gain to 45 percent. The Topix index fell 0.5 percent Friday.
During the hacking episode in December, news organizations had to capture raw Sony data posted by hackers before it was taken down from file-sharing sites by the company. The material posted by WikiLeaks on Thursday will remain on the site and includes a search tool that makes it much easier to navigate.
Journalists have begun to share the content via social-media platforms such as Twitter.
Douglas Lucas, who describes himself as a writer and journalist, tweeted a link to an e-mail from Nicole Seligman, president of Sony Corp. of America, sharing articles on the strained relationship between North Korea and Japan with Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Michael Lynton.
Anthony de Rosa, editor-in-chief of the news website Circa, tweeted a link to e-mails between Sony executives on how the studio planned to deal with the National Football League over “Concussion,” its Will Smith feature film about helmet safety that’s scheduled for release Dec. 25.
Sony condemned the latest release and disputed WikiLeaks’ assertion that the documents should be made available to the public. The studio said it would fight for the safety, security and privacy of its more than 6,000 employees.
“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,” Sony Pictures said in a statement.
The Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the interests of big Hollywood studios, joined in the condemnation.
“WikiLeaks is not performing a public service by making this information easily searchable,” former U.S Senator Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the MPAA, said in a statement. “Instead, with this despicable act, WikiLeaks is further violating the privacy of every person involved.”