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Speaking out about the recent decision by Wikileaks to publish a searchable database of thousands of hacked emails from Sony Pictures Entertainment, CEO Michael M. Lynton ’82 called the dissemination “frustrating” and expressed disappointment in the website archiving his emails.
Hundreds of emails to and from Lynton’s email account, including correspondence with other Harvard Overseers and officials such as University President Drew G. Faust and University Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development Tamara E. Rogers '74, are now archived on WikiLeaks. Among other points, they detail his participation in Harvard alumni and fundraising activities. Lynton is a graduate of the College and the Business School and is a major University donor.
“These are emails that are stolen,” Lynton said in an interview with The Crimson on Thursday. “These are often times private correspondence. I am not concerned about the things that I’ve said, but often times people have written to me with private matters that I’m sure they wouldn't want to see in the public eye.”
In November, Sony was the subject of a cyber security attack that led to the leaks. In December, U.S. intelligence officials linked the Sony attack to North Korea, which was the subject of a controversial comedy film, “The Interview,” which Sony eventually released.
On Thursday, Lynton said he had been in contact with Harvard Vice President and Board of Overseers Secretary Marc L. Goodheart '81 about the emails. Lynton does not think Harvard is very concerned about them, he said.
“I’ve devoted a lot of time to try to be helpful to the University, whether that be at the Overseer level, or trying to be helpful to make sure the arts and humanities are helped out at the University,” Lynton said. “There’s nothing I think that I've had in my correspondence with either Tamara or Drew that’s untoward.”
Lynton has repeatedly donated to Harvard, particularly to arts and humanities initiatives, and hosted fundraising and alumni events on the West Coast.
University spokesperson Jeff Neal wrote in an email that Lynton’s emails show that he is a “strongly supportive member of the Harvard community.”
“While it is truly unfortunate that his personal emails were stolen, his correspondence with Harvard administrators and faculty only serves to demonstrate the depth of his ongoing commitment to Harvard,” Neal wrote.
Sony issued a statement condemning WikiLeaks’ publishing of the hacked emails earlier in the month.
“The attackers used the dissemination of stolen information to try to harm [Sony] and its employees, and now WikiLeaks regrettably is assisting them in that effort,” a Sony spokesperson said in a statement. “We vehemently disagree with WikiLeaks’ assertion that this material belongs in the public domain and will continue to fight for the safety, security, and privacy of our company and its more than 6,000 employees.”
—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @trdelwic.
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