Wikileaks has an eye on Taranaki

SUSAN STRONGMAN
Last updated 05:00 21/05/2014

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Big Brother IS watching - and sometimes the Taranaki Daily News attracts his eagle eye.

In a vast swathe of emails published on WikiLeaks, a rugby match in New Plymouth between the US and Russia was mentioned on pages 2, 12 and 13 of a 40-page email entitled "Russia 110107. Basic Political Developments."

The email was the work of an American global intelligence-gathering firm called Stratfor, short for Strategic Forecasting Inc.

And Stratfor spotted something in the Daily News in 2011 that it thought worth more attention.

"Putin could visit NZ during Rugby World Cup," a bullet point in the email, between information on the 10-year imprisonment of a Russian hacker and the search for the crew of a schooner in distress, read.

Later on in the document, a story by Taranaki Daily News reporter Glenn McLean, headlined "A Cold War match - and Russia's sending big guns" was quoted in full.

The match was the much-anticipated rugby clash between Russia and the USA, to be played in New Plymouth.

The story reported plans revealed by the Russian rugby team's then coach Steve Diamond for a diplomatic visit to New Plymouth by either Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin or president Dmitry Medvedev during the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Yesterday McLean, an all round tough-guy who is fondly known as "Macca" in the newsroom, was not fazed by the idea that the proverbial big brother could be watching over him, scanning his emails or hacking his mobile phone.

"I'm not worried one bit," he declared.

As it turned out, the game, on September 15, 2011, was attended by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov, vodka mogul and billionaire Roustam Tariko, and Miss Russia, Natalia Gantimurova. Their presence was not enough to spur on their team, which lost 6-13.

The Stratfor emails, collectively referred to as the Global Intelligence Files on WikiLeaks, consist of more than 5 million emails dated between July 2004 and December 2011.

According to the WikiLeaks website, the emails "reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations."

WikiLeaks, founded by Australian Julian Assange, has disclosed vast amounts of classified data about American military and diplomatic efforts.

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