A document linking China's ruling Politburo to the December 2009 hack of Google's computer systems is among a cache of more than 250,000 US Department of State cables that WikiLeaks began releasing yesterday.
The US Embassy in Beijing was told by an unidentified Chinese contact that China's Politburo "directed the intrusion into Google's computer systems", according tothe document, which cited a single leaked State Department cable.
"The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said," the New York Times reported.
The cable is another piece of evidence, albeit thinly sourced, linking China to the Google attack. Wikileaks is gradually releasing this latest set of cables, and the document in question was not available on WikiLeaks' website at press time. The Times, along with a handful of other newspapers, was given early access to the documents.
Security experts have linked the attacks to servers at a university used by the Chinese military, and both Google and the State Department implied that they thought China was behind the attacks when they were first disclosed in January, but nobody has produced conclusive proof that they were state-sponsored.
Google was one of more than 30 companies targeted in the attacks, known as Aurora. Google said the primary goal of the hackers was to access the Gmail accounts of human rights activists, and that the attack apparently failed.
Within hours of Google acknowledging the Aurora attacks, the State Department issued a statement, saying the attacks were serious and asking the Chinese government for an explanation.
The state documents are the latest blockbuster disclosure to come from the document-leaking organization. Earlier this year, WikiLeaks came under fire from US authorities after releasing hundreds of thousands of military documents relating to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.