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Reporting Misfire Alleged in Sony Hack Scandal

(CN) - A Hollywood Reporter investigation wrecked an innocent accountant's career by floating the idea that an inside job led to the massive leak of information at Sony last year, she claims in a federal complaint.

When the Sony breach came to light on Nov. 24, 2014, hackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace quickly took credit for the attack, and U.S. authorities blamed North Korean government actors with sponsoring it.

About a week later, however, two Hollywood Reporter journalists voiced skepticism of these accounts with an article saying that "allegedly stolen files posted on a site called Pastebin came from a sender named 'Nicole Basile,'" who worked as an accountant on "The Amazing Spider-Man."

Attorneys for Basile hit these reporters, Gregg Kilday and Tatiana Siegel, and publisher Prometheus Global Media with a federal complaint in Chicago for defamation and false light.

"This article has destroyed Ms. Basile's reputation, rendering her an untouchable within the industry, and destroying her career," the Nov. 6 complaint states. "For the past several years, she worked more or less continuously with only short breaks as a freelance production accountant on various films, with increasing responsibility and better pay. However, since the article was published, she has not been offered a single job that is commensurate with her experience."

Basile claims that the stress of becoming a Tinseltown pariah made her suffer "severe abdominal pains" that doctors initially thought would require surgery, until they discovered the symptoms had "no physical" root.

Basile notes that the hackers used many aliases in emails to journalists, not just her name.

While "The Amazing Spider-Man" is a Sony film, Basile notes that a separate production company employed her for the film.

"This is no semantic quibble, but rather points to the heart of the matter," the complaint states. "The article was intentionally crafted to point the finger at Ms. Basile as the insider responsible for the attack. To carry out this mission the Article needed to portray Ms. Basile as a Sony insider."

Basile, a citizen of Illinois living in Manhattan, says the article also reported that she "couldn't be reached for comment," though Kilday and Siegel made "no reasonable efforts" to contact her.

The complaint demands more than $1.4 million in lost earnings and other damages.

Basile is represented by Ian Brenson, of La Grange, Ill.

The Hollywood Reporter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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