Heartland Institute claim some leaked emails were faked and stunted

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 15 Feb 2015 21:19, Last updated: 2015-02-15
Email culprits should be "ashamed of their deeds", says Heartland

Officials at the sceptic think-tank Heartland Institute have tonight claimed at least one of the leaked emails that exposed its strategy on climate change was a fake.

The US-based organisation also said some of the “stolen” documents may have been altered and vowed to find the culprit and “have him or her put in prison for these crimes”.

However, in a bizarre statement it acknowledged some of the details were correct as it apologised to the donors whose identities were revealed.

The group say the authenticity of all the documents has still not yet been confirmed but it insisted one document, “Confidential Memo: 2015 Heartland Climate Strategy”, is a “total fake”.

In a statement tonight, the institute, said the faked message was “intended to defame and discredit” the organisation.

“It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute,” it added. “It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact.”

The group also appears to threaten media organisations to remove all of the documents and any quotations taken from them.

In a clumsy warning, The Heartland Institute cautioned: “The individuals who have commented so far on these documents did not wait for Heartland to confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents.

“We believe their actions constitute civil and possibly criminal offences for which we plan to pursue charges and collect payment for damages, including damages to our reputation. We ask them in particular to immediately remove these documents and all statements about them from the blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions.”

The organisation admitted the stolen documents were obtained by someone who apparently fraudulently assumed the identity of a Heartland board member and persuaded a staff member to “re-send” board materials to a new email address.

It adds: “Identity theft and computer fraud are criminal offences subject to imprisonment. We intend to find this person and see him or her put in prison for these crimes.”

“The Heartland Institute apologizes to the donors whose identities were revealed by this theft. We promise anonymity to many of our donors, and we realize that the major reason these documents were stolen and faked was to make it more difficult for donors to support our work.

“We also apologize to Heartland staff, directors, and our allies in the fight to bring sound science to the global warming debate, who have had their privacy violated and their integrity impugned.”

It said that the lessons from the leak scandal were “disagreement over the causes, consequences, and best policy responses to climate change runs deep. We understand that.”

And it added: “But honest disagreement should never be used to justify the criminal acts and fraud that occurred in the past 24 hours. As a matter of common decency and journalistic ethics, we ask everyone in the climate change debate to sit back and think about what just happened.

“Those persons who posted these documents and wrote about them before we had a chance to comment on their authenticity should be ashamed of their deeds, and their bad behaviour should be taken into account when judging their credibility now and in the future.”

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