Help us find clues in climate email hacker’s message | Leo Hickman

Early on Tuesday, a still-as-yet unidentified person, or persons, going by the name of “FOIA” posted messages on at least four separate blogs popular with climate sceptics, each of which provided a link to a folder of files being hosted on a Russian server. The folder contained another huge tranche of private emails that had first been taken from a back-up server at the University of East Anglia over a period of a few weeks in the lead up the Copenhagen climate summit in later 2009.

The contents of the emails – which were exchanged between climate scientists over the past decade or so – are still being analysed and discussed, but, unlike the first wave released in 2009, they don’t, on first glance, appear to contain anywhere near as much ammunition for the critics of climate science. Of far more interest – certainly to Norfolk Police, who have still yet to report a breakthrough in their two-year investigation into who first took the emails – is the message contained within the folder in a text file called “README”. For the first time, we get to hear directly from the hacker.

What does this file really tell us, if anything, about the identity of the hacker? I have annotated all the places in the file which I think are of potential interest – and explained why. (Click on the yellow tabs on the file below to read the annotations.)

For example, there are the stylistic writing quirks. And what about the quotes at the beginning that help to underscore the “motivation” behind releasing the emails? Where do they come from? The motivation is obvious enough, but do these clues help to paint a profile – nationality, cultural heritage, competence with computers etc – of the perpetrator?

I’ve had a go below but I’m really like to draw on your collective wisdom, so please use the comments below to offer your own thoughts, speculations and theories about what this file might tell us about the hacker’s profile (and the police who are sure to be also scrutinising it for potential clues). If you’d prefer to, you can email me on

(NB: Hopefully, the specific topic of this blog should be clear to all. Any comments about what does or doesn’t cause climate change etc, are likely to be treated as off-topic by the moderators. Many thanks in advance. Happy sleuthing.)

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