New York: The New York Times on Thursday said Chinese hackers have carried out sustained attacks on its computer systems, breaking in and stealing the passwords of reporters, including in India, after the paper's expose of vast wealth amassed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's family.
"Security experts hired by The Times to detect and block the computer attacks gathered digital evidence that Chinese hackers, using methods that some consultants have associated with the Chinese military in the past, breached The Times' network," the New York Times said.
"They broke into the e-mail accounts of its Shanghai bureau chief, David Barboza, who wrote the reports on Mr Wen's relatives, and Jim Yardley, The Times' South Asia bureau chief in India, who previously worked as bureau chief in Beijing," the paper said.
Reacting to the charge, China categorically dismissed New York Times' claims that Chinese hackers have persistently attacked computer systems of the paper for the last four months after it carried the story of the family of Wen accumulating over USD 2.7 billion assets.
"The competent Chinese authorities have already issued a clear response to the groundless accusations made by the New York Times," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing.
"To arbitrarily assert and to conclude without hard evidence that China participated in such hacking attacks is totally irresponsible," Hong said.
"China is also a victim of hacking attacks. Chinese laws clearly forbid hacking attacks, and we hope relevant parties take a responsible attitude on this issue," he said.
"The timing of the attacks coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation, published online on October 25, that found that the relatives of Wen had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings", the New York Times said.
"Security experts found evidence that the hackers stole the corporate passwords for every Times employee and used those to gain access to the personal computers of 53 employees, most of them outside The Times' newsroom" it said.
Earlier, the Times had also alleged that one of its correspondents, Chris Buckley, was not granted accreditation and visa to work from China.