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Climategate: was Russian secret service behind email hacking plot?
There was growing speculation on Sunday that hackers working for the Russian secret service were responsible for the theft of controversial emails in the ‘Climategate’ scandal
Thousands of emails, from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were first published on a small server in the city of Tomsk in Siberia.
So-called ‘patriot hackers’ from Tomsk have been used in the past by the Russian secret service, the FSB, to attack websites disliked by the Kremlin, such as the “denial of service” campaign launched against the Kavkaz-Tsentr website, over its reports about the war in Chechnya, in 2002.
Copenhagen: 'long way' to convince sceptics
UN warning over hacked climate change emails
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Climategate: UN to investigate claims
Ice polar bear sends message to world leaders Russia, a major oil exporter, may be trying to undermine calls to reduce carbon emissions ahead of the Copenhagen summit on global warming. The CRU emails included remarks which some claim show scientists had manipulated the figures to make them fit the theory that humans are causing global warming.
Achim Steiner, the director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said the theft of emails from CRU, which is a world-renowned centre for climate research, had similarities with the Watergate scandal which brought down US President Richard Nixon.
But he said: “This is not climategate, it’s hackergate. Let’s not forget the word ‘gate’ refers to a place [the Watergate building] where data was stolen by people who were paid to do so.
“So the media should direct its investigations into that.”
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the vice-chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said he believed the theft of the emails was not the work of amateur climate sceptics.
“It’s very common for hackers in Russia to be paid for their services,” he told The Times.
“If you look at that mass of emails a lot of work was done, not only to download the data but it’s a carefully made selection of emails and documents that’s not random at all.
“This is 13 years of data and it’s not a job of amateurs.”
Mr van Ypersele said the expose was making it more difficult to persuade the 192 countries going to Copenhagen of the need to cut carbon emissions.
“One effect of this is to make scientists lose lots of time checking things. We are spending a lot of useless time discussing this rather than spending time preparing information for the negotiators,” he said.
However he insisted the emails did not change the science. “It doesn’t change anything in the IPCC’s conclusions. It’s only one line of evidence out of dozens of lines of evidence,” he said.
A Russian hacking specialist told the Mail on Sunday: “There is no hard evidence that the hacking was done from Tomsk, though it might have been. There has been speculation the hackers were Russian.
“It appears to have been a sophisticated and well-run operation, that had a political motive given the timing in relation to Copenhagen.”
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