US diplomats in Beijing linked top Chinese officials to the cyber attacks that prompted Google to take down its search engine in China early this year, leaked diplomatic cables show.
"A well-placed contact claims that the Chinese government coordinated the recent intrusions of Google systems," a cable dated earlier this year said.
The cable, posted by the New York Times on its website on Saturday, was from a trove of 250,000 US diplomatic messages leaked by WikiLeaks, whose contents were dismissed Thursday by a Chinese foreign ministry official as "absurd."
"According to our contact, the closely held operations were directed at the Politburo Standing Committee level," the cable went on to say, referring to the ruling body of the Chinese Communist Party.
The contact said the attacks were coordinated out of the State Council Information Office with the oversight of Politburo members Li Changchun and Zhou Yongkang, who is China's top security official, according to the Times.
The Times also cited a cable dated early this year that quoted a Chinese person with family connections to the elite as saying that Li had personally directed an attack on Google's servers in the United States.
But the contact cited in that cable told the Times in an interview that Li oversaw a campaign against Google operations in China but the person did not know who directed the hacking attack.
Google in January charged that it and at least 20 other companies were victims of a highly sophisticated cyber attack in mid December 2009 that originated from China, apparently to gain access to email accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
In March, Google began redirecting queries from Google.cn to Google.com.hk, allowing uncensored Chinese search results. But it ended the automatic redirect to the Hong Kong site in June to avoid having its license suspended by China.