Whistleblower website WikiLeaks published a slew of documents on April 16 casting light on secretive efforts by entertainment and electronics giant Sony to lobby the US government on hot button issues such as cracking down on online piracy.
One collection of emails indicates staff from Sony's US subsidiary, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), sought to maneuver around a US$5,000 limit on corporate contributions to political campaigns to contribute to Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's re-election war chest.
One email in the WikiLeaks database read: “Thanks to Governor Cuomo, we have a great production incentive environment in NY and a strong piracy advocate that’s actually done more than talk about our problems.”
“Because of all of this, I think it’s important to significantly support his reelection efforts and NY law only allows corporations to give him $5,000 (which we’ve done) … and, with Michael’s support, we are trying to raise $50k overall. This means I need to ask individual senior execs for support, which is not my favorite thing to do.”
One response to the email read: “$50k is a heavy lift since most of it needs to come from individual contributions (only $5k can come from corp.), but I recommend we do it. Cuomo has been a strong protector of the film incentive — even amidst recent criticisms of the program.”
WikiLeaks said the back door connections between Sony Pictures Entertainment and US governments extends beyond one attempt to have a staunchly anti-piracy governor re-elected.
“The Sony Archives show that behind the scenes this is an influential corporation, with ties to the White House (there are almost 100 U.S. government email addresses in the archive), with an ability to impact laws and policies, and with connections to the US military-industrial complex,” WikiLeaks said.
According to WikiLeaks, Sony Pictures’ CEO Michael Lynton is on the board of trustees of the RAND Corporation, which the whistleblower website described as “an organization specializing in research and development for the United States military and intelligence sector”.
WikiLeaks said its newly released trove of documents brings to light the “flow of contacts and information” between Sony’s US subsidiary and RAND. This ranges from Sony setting up celebrity visits to special events for the military research company, to RAND offering advice to Sony Pictures on how to handle blowback from North Korea over the film, The Interview.
In total, the trove includes more than 30,000 documents, collectively dubbed by WikiLeaks as “The Sony Archives”. The documents were first leaked online late last year by hackers.
The leak has been widely described as the largest corporate information leak in US history, with personal information such as employee details being made public. The White House accused North Korea of orchestrating the hack in retaliation to the release of The Interview.
However, the documents were largely posted ad hoc on torrent sharing websites, and most have since been taken offline by US authorities. But WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the archive “belongs in the public domain”.
“This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation,” he said. “It is newsworthy and at the center of a geo-political conflict.”
[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]