China’s Politburo was behind the massive attack on Google servers that led to the search firm leaving the country, leaked US diplomatic cables reveal.
But the cables, leaked by whistleblower site Wikileaks, also reveal that the US had sought the internet passwords and biometric information of UN leaders.
In the largest government leak in history, Wikileaks has begun publishing more than 250,000 US State Department cables, containing secret communication between its embassies and Washington.
The documents were downloaded by a US solider from the worldwide Siprnet network, which is accessed by millions of US military and government staff.
Wikileaks, which last month published secret documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, gave the documents to the New York Times, Guardian and other major western media.
The first reports, published Sunday, said the Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of sabotage carried out by private security experts and hackers recruited by the Chinese government.
The Politburo – the Chinese Communist Party’s highest organ – directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems, a Chinese contact told the US Embassy in Beijing in January, The New York Times reported.
The government-led team of hackers had broken into American government computers, and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, the cables said.
Separately, the cables reveal that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had sent a “national human intelligence collection directive” to collect biometric information on senior UN officials, including undersecretaries, heads of specialized agencies and heads of peace missions.
“Washington also wanted credit card numbers, email addresses, phone, fax and pager numbers and even frequent-flyer account numbers for UN figures and ‘biographic and biometric information on UN Security Council permanent representatives,’” the Guardian said.
The scheme also sought the passwords and personal encryption keys used by UN officials.
Wikileaks said on its Twitter feed that it had been hit by a denial of service attack ahead of publishing the material on Sunday.