Foreign spies hacked climate change data

The UK Government's former chief scientist has claimed the hack that outed over a thousand emails from the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia was probably carried out by foreign spies.

In an interview with The Independent, Sir David King said the hack was very sophisticated - the sort of thing likely to be carried out by government agencies. He believes the leak of sensitive emails was aimed at destabilising December's Copenhagen Climate Change Summit.

"A very clever nerd can cause a great deal of disruption and obviously make intelligence services very nervous, but a sophisticated intelligence operation is capable of yielding the sort of results we've seen here," King told the paper.

But this hack, "was carried out by a team of skilled professionals, either on behalf of a foreign government or at the behest of anti-climate change lobbyists in the United States," he said.

"It was an extraordinarily sophisticated operation. There are are several bodies of people who could do this sort of work. These are national intelligence agencies and it seems to me that it was the work of such a group of people," he said.

"I don't think that it's a coincidence that the stealing of the emails from the individuals involved in East Anglia was put out for publication one month before Copenhagen. That wasn't a coincidence," Sir David said.

"The emails date back to 1996, so someone was collecting the data over many years. It looks like possibly the work of an intelligence service. What it was was a very well co-ordinated part of a campaign. It was a difficult piece of work to get that done."

The hackers are thought to have tried to use a proxy server in Turkey to upload the carefully selected emails to the RealClimate web site which is run by climate boffins.

"If it was a job done on behalf of a government, then I suppose there is the possibility that it could be the Russian intelligence agency," King told The Independent. "If it was a maverick group then I suppose it could be the Americans, but I am hazarding a guess as much as anyone else. The only thing is, I've worked within government and I've seen this in operation," King added.

"In terms of the expense, there is the American lobby system which is a very likely source of finance. Right now, the American lobbyists are a very likely source of finance for this, so the finger must point to them," he said.

King seems to have left out the Chinese from his finger-pointing excercise. Maybe he didn't read this.