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Could BofA be Wikileaks' next target?

WikiLeaks has several gigabytes of data from a Bank of America Corp executive's hard drive, the organization's founder Julian Assange said in a published interview in 2009.
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

WikiLeaks has several gigabytes of data from a Bank of America Corp executive's hard drive, the organization's founder Julian Assange said in a published interview in 2009.

Assange's whistle-blower organization, which released 250,000 U.S. government diplomatic and military documents on November 28, plans to release tens of thousands of internal documents from a major U.S. bank early next year, according to an interview posted online on Monday by Forbes Magazine.

Assange declined to identify to Forbes which bank would be the subject of the release, but expected the leak to spawn investigations.

Mark Stephens, a London lawyer who represents Assange, said that Assange could not be immediately reached for comment on whether the bank documents he told Forbes about were the same Bank of America documents he talked to Computerworld about just over a year ago.

In an October 9, 2009 interview, Assange told Computerworld that WikiLeaks had obtained five gigabytes of data from a Bank of America executive's hard drive.

"Now how do we present that? It's a difficult problem. We could just dump it all into one giant Zip file, but we know for a fact that has limited impact. To have impact, it needs to be easy for people to dive in and search it and get something out of it," Assange told Computerworld.

A Bank of America spokeswoman said the bank is aware of WikiLeaks' claims that it has company data, but said it has not been contacted by the group or seen proof it possesses any of the bank's information.

U.S. authorities are conducting an intensive criminal investigation into the release of government documents.

Authorities are also conducting an extensive criminal probe of Wall Street, according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. At a news conference Monday, Holder declined to say whether the investigation involves hedge funds and allegations of insider trading — as news reports have suggested. Holder would say only the probe by the U.S. attorney's office is very serious and is ongoing.

WikiLeaks says it is a nonprofit organization funded by human rights campaigners, journalists and the general public. Launched in 2006, it promotes the leaking of information to fight government and corporate corruption.

The U.S. government said on Monday it deeply regretted the release of any classified information and would tighten security to prevent leaks such as WikiLeaks' disclosure of a trove of State Department cables.

Previously WikiLeaks had made public nearly 500,000 classified U.S. files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.