WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA has withdrawn a number of its personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing following two massive cyber attacks involving U.S. government employee records, according to the Washington Post.
Citing current and former U.S. officials “who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter,” the newspaper said the CIA took the steps because the hack of U.S. Office of Personnel Management records this year could have enabled the Chinese to identify the intelligence agency’s employees.
U.S. officials have privately pointed to China as the source of the OPM attacks but have not publicly declared who was behind them. Although no evidence has emerged that the stolen data has been abused, U.S. officials have said they are concerned about potential counterintelligence problems.
Officials told the Washington Post that China could compare OPM records, which include details on State Department employees, to a list of embassy workers and figure out who could be a potential CIA employee by process of elimination.
Reuters could not immediately confirm the report, and the CIA, or Central Intelligence Agency, declined to comment to the Post.
The newspaper report, posted late Tuesday, comes as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Tuesday expressed scepticism about the recent U.S.-China cyber agreement announced last week.
The OPM breach was discovered this spring and affected security clearance records dating back many years.
Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Lisa Lambert