US president’s Helsinki summit with Putin described as ‘successful (at least for Putin)’ by European officials.
Chinese hackers have reportedly had access to private communications between European Union diplomats for years, downloading thousands of cables that reveal concerns over everything from Donald Trump to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
More than 1,100 cables were supplied to the New York Times by security firm Area 1 after it discovered the breach, the newspaper reported, adding that the firm’s investigators believed the hackers worked for China’s People’s Liberation Army.
The cables include memorandums of conversations with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries that were shared across the EU, according to the report.
One cable reportedly shows European diplomats describing a meeting between President Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as “successful (at least for Putin).”
In their conversations with US officials following the extraordinary July summit in Helsinki, EU diplomats allegedly described White House efforts to engage in damage control after Mr Trump supported a number of Mr Putin’s positions, including apparent agreement to allow Moscow to interrogate former US diplomats.
A cable from March revealed advice from the deputy head of the EU mission in Washington, Caroline Vicini, in which diplomats were urged to work around Mr Trump by dealing directly with congress.
Ms Vicini also advised the trade bloc’s diplomats to describe the US as “our most important partner”, even as it challenged the Trump administration “in areas where we disagreed with the US (eg, on climate, trade, Iran nuclear deal)”.
Another cable, written after a meeting in July, relayed a detailed report and analysis of talks between European officials and Chinese president Xi Jinping, who was quoted comparing Mr Trump’s “bullying” of Beijing to a “no-rules freestyle boxing match”.
The hackers also infiltrated the networks of the United Nations, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and ministries of foreign affairs and finance worldwide, the report added.
The EU secretariat said on Tuesday it was “aware of allegations regarding a potential leak of sensitive information and is actively investigating the issue”.