A story today in the British daily "The Independent" suggests this might be the case:
In November, an unknown hacker, or hackers, accessed the server of the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England and disseminated over one thousand e-mails and other documents from over a 13-year period.
"The Independent" reports that the e-mails -- which climate-change skeptics say prove that researchers manipulated their data in order to exaggerate the threat of global warming -- were originally posted on a server in Tomsk owned by an Internet security company called Tomcity:
"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."
The newspaper notes that "many in Russia's scientific community are deeply skeptical of the threat of global warming" and suggests that Moscow is less than interested in a strong global pact emerging from Copenhagen:
It is this, goes the theory, that underlies the Kremlin's ambivalent attitudes towards global warming; they remain lukewarm on the science underpinning climate change, knowing full well that if global warming does change the world's climate, billions of dollars of natural resources will become accessible. Another motivating factor could be that Russia simply does not want to spend the vast sums of money that would be required to modernize and "greenify" Russia's ageing factories.
The story was also covered by Britain's "The Daily Telegraph" and "The Mail On Sunday." And it has been picked up by the Russian online media.
Some conservative British bloggers, meanwhile, are casting doubt on the alleged Russian connection.
James Demingpole at "The Daily Telegraph" calls it "a glorious red herring, designed both to impugn the motives of the people who leaked the CRU files and to distract from the significance of the files' contents."
Another conservative blogger, Richard North, says that the fact that the e-mails we posted on the Tomsk server does not prove that Moscow had a hand in their dissemination:
Thus, the fact that the material was placed on a Russian server gives no clue whatsoever as to the identity of the person (or persons) who uploaded the material, or of their location. The newspapers, therefore, have to invent a connection and a 'motive' in order to forge a link.
Now we at the Power Vertical love a good old cloak-and-dagger-style FSB-conspiracy yarn as much as anybody (actually, probably more than anybody). Our experience also tells us that the FSB is certainly capable of such an operation. And Russia, a major gas and oil exporter, certainly has motive to derail a new global climate pact
But the evidence presented thus far is a bit thin and circumstantial. But this does merit keeping an eye on and we'll follow up if something more substantial turns up. If any readers come across anything, either supporting or debunking the alleged Russia connection, give us a shout in comments or by e-mail.
-- Brian Whitmore