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U.S. helping Britain investigate hacking of climate scientists' emails

December 19, 2011|By Neela Banerjee
  • Penn State Professor Michael Mann in 2007. The British university whose stolen emails caused a global climate science controversy in 2009 says those behind the breach have apparently released a second and potentially far larger batch of old messages, including some from Mann.
Penn State Professor Michael Mann in 2007. The British university whose… (AP/Greg Rico )

The Justice Department is helping British authorities in an investigation into the hacking of climate scientists’ emails, which caused an uproar among skeptics of global warming when they were released two years ago.

Ten days ago, the Justice Department contacted San Francisco web development company Automattic, asking it to preserve records of three climate skeptic bloggers in the U.S., Canada and Britain who recently received another batch of stolen emails sent from a server in Russia.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the nature of the investigation and did not give Automattic a reason for its request. But the letter to Automattic suggests the request is part of an ongoing investigation by law enforcement officials in Britain.

On Dec. 14, the home of Roger Tattersall, the British blogger “Tallbloke,” was raided by detectives from the Metropolitan Police in London and members of the Norfolk Constabulary, whose jurisdiction in East Central England includes the University of East Anglia, whose scientists’ email accounts were targeted. Tattersall was not arrested, but the police confiscated two laptop computers and other equipment, according to his blog.

Those who dispute that the Earth is going through a dangerous warming trend have pointed to quotes from the emails of leading climate scientists about their research and dismissive comments about those who doubt global warming as evidence of a broad conspiracy carried out to convince the public of global warming.

Every independent panel that has looked into the emails, however, has cleared the scientists of allegations of falsifying data. The Justice Department’s request to preserve records for the three blogs—Tallbloke, Climateaudit and JeffId -- covers a period from Nov. 21 to Nov. 23, when a link to the new set of emails appeared in the comments section of each site, said Steve McIntyre, a Canadian mining industry consultant who now devotes most of his time to Climate Audit.

The first set of stolen emails appeared in similar fashion in 2009, almost to the date, as governments prepared to attend the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen. The new emails, posted on a Russian server like the first batch, appear to have been stolen in 2009 and came out this time in the run-up to global climate talks in Durban.

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