Was Russia Behind the Stolen CRU Emails?

A senior member of the IPCC is charging that Russia mounted a sophisticated operation to discredit the Copenhagen climate change summit: Was Russian secret service behind leak of climate-change emails?

The news that a leaked set of emails appeared to show senior climate scientists had manipulated data was shocking enough. Now the story has become more remarkable still.

The computer hack, said a senior member of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, was not an amateur job, but a highly sophisticated, politically motivated operation. And others went further. The guiding hand behind the leaks, the allegation went, was that of the Russian secret services.

The leaked emails, which claimed to provide evidence that the unit’s head, Professor Phil Jones, colluded with colleagues to manipulate data and hide “unhelpful” research from critics of climate change science, were originally posted on a server in the Siberian city of Tomsk, at a firm called Tomcity, an internet security business.

The FSB security services, descendants of the KGB, are believed to invest significant resources in hackers, and the Tomsk office has a record of issuing statements congratulating local students on hacks aimed at anti-Russian voices, deeming them “an expression of their position as citizens, and one worthy of respect”. The Kremlin has also been accused of running co-ordinated cyber attacks against websites in neighbouring countries such as Estonia, with which the Kremlin has frosty relations, although the allegations were never proved.

“It’s very common for hackers in Russia to be paid for their services,” Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the vice chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, said in Copenhagen at the weekend. “It’s a carefully made selection of emails and documents that’s not random. This is 13 years of data, and it’s not a job of amateurs.”

I don’t know if Russia was responsible, but this has never looked like a simple case of computerized vandalism to me. After looking through the stolen data, it’s very clear that whoever did it spent a lot of time picking out the bits that would look the most incriminating, specifically to sabotage the Copenhagen summit.

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Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
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