Foreign Journalists in Beijing Hit by E-Mail Hackers

BEIJING — At least two foreign journalists living in Beijing have had their Google e-mail accounts hacked, a journalists’ advocacy group in China said Monday. The hackers changed settings so that all Gmail messages would be forwarded to unfamiliar addresses.
The journalists apparently discovered that their accounts had been hacked after Google announced last week that hackers had attempted sophisticated attacks on its security infrastructure. The attacks were traced to mainland China. Google also said that two Gmail accounts had been compromised and, separately, that dozens of people pressing for human rights in China had had their e-mail accounts hacked. In retaliation, Google had said it would talk to the Chinese government about ceasing the practice of self-censorship of its Chinese-language search engine,, and that the search company could close down or curtail its operations in China.
The two foreign journalists recently victimized by hackers were among a large number of Gmail users in China who checked their accounts after Google’s announcement and discovered that their accounts had been compromised. In many of those cases, it was unclear exactly when the hackers had broken into the accounts. The attacks are separate from those that were aimed weeks ago at the security infrastructure and of Google and more than 30 other companies and entities, most of them based in Silicon Valley, California.
One of the two journalists is a television reporter in the Beijing bureau of The Associated Press, which has one of the largest foreign news operations in China. E-mail messages in the reporter’s account were being forwarded to an e-mail address that the reporter did not recognize. The reporter said that other people the reporter knew in Beijing had suffered the same kind of attack, though none of the forwarding addresses were the same.
It is unclear whether the attacks are tied to the Chinese government, whose security forces sometimes closely monitor the activities of foreign journalists.
“We remind all members that journalists in China have been particular targets of hacker attacks in the last two years,” the journalists’ advocacy group, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, said in its announcement of the recent attacks on the Gmail accounts.
Several well-known rights advocates in China said last week that their Gmail accounts had been hacked recently. The advocates include Ai Weiwei, the rebellious artist, and Teng Biao, a lawyer. In several instances, the accounts had been set by hackers to forward e-mail messages to unfamiliar addresses, as in the cases of the two journalists.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman based in Asia for Google said Monday that the larger attacks on the Google infrastructure were part of an ongoing investigation and declined to comment further.

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