BY FREDDY GRAY
AN INTERNET hacker who allegedly leaked details of the top-secret plot of the last Harry Potter book has claimed that he was inspired by Pope Benedict XVI.
The hacker, calling himself Gabriel, posted "spoilers" of the storyline of J K Rowling's hugely anticipated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Gabriel told web-users that he had hacked into Harry Potter's Bloomsbury publishers' e-mail system to steal the secrets of the eagerly awaited finale to the series.
The hacker wrote: "We did it [the hack] by following the precious words of the great Pope Benedict XVI when he still was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
"He explained why Harry Potter bring [sic] the youngs [sic] of our earth to Neo Paganism faith.
"So we make this spoiler to make reading of the upcoming book useless and boring."
Gabriel was referring to two letters written in 2003 by Cardinal Ratzinger to a German critic of the Harry Potter books. In the letters the cardinal told Gabriele Kuby, author of Harry Potter: Good or Evil?, that he had serious reservations about J K Rowling's work.
"It is good that you enlighten people about Harry Potter," he wrote, "because [the book contains] subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly."
Later that year Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to Miss Kuby again, saying he "gladly" gave his permission for her to make public "my judgment about Harry Potter".
The website which published the "spoiler", insecure:corn, has also posted a disclaimer saying: "We have no idea if the spoilers are true or not."
A Bloomsbury spokesman declined to comment on the alleged leak but the publishers have pointed out that there are so many claims about the last Harry Potter book that they no longer bother to issue denials.
A spokeswoman for Scholastic, the American distributors of the Potter books, neither denied nor confirmed that Gabriel's claims were accurate.
She warned Potter fans to be sceptical over anything on the web that claimed to have inside information on the book's plot.
"There is a whole lot of junk flying around. Consider this one more themy," she said.
It is thought that Gabriel chose his web name in reference to Miss Kuby. However, the German writer was unavailable for comment. The book will be published in Britain next month.