US Secretary of State John Kerry has accused China and Russia of “very likely” reading his emails.
“The answer is it is very likely,” Kerry said in an interview with CBS Evening News on Tuesday, when asked whether Chinese and Russian hackers had access to his email accounts.
“It is not … outside the realm of possibility, and we know that they have attacked a number of American interests over the course of the last days,” he elaborated. “I certainly write things with that awareness.”
His comments came amid a flurry of recent cyber attacks which US intelligence and security officials have blamed on Chinese and Russian hackers.
NBC News reported on Monday that private emails of top US national security and trade officials have been compromised since April of 2010 by Chinese hackers.
The report, citing a US intelligence official and a National Security Agency (NSA) briefing in 2014, said the intrusions involved private accounts of senior officials and not those of the government, which are more secure.
Kerry said that hacking incidents had been a topic of ongoing discussions with China, and that US President Barack Obama would press the issue again when he hosts his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Washington in September.
“The Chinese and Russians… have consistently been engaged in cyber attacks against American interests, against the American government. And it’s an issue that we recently raised very, very strongly in our dialogue with the Chinese,” the top US diplomat said.
The Obama administration has decided that it must retaliate against China for the alleged theft and revelation of personal information of over 20 million Americans from government databases, according to a New York Times report published earlier this month.
The decision came after the White House concluded that the hacking attacks on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), revealed in June, were so vast in scope that the usual practices of dealing with traditional espionage cases did not apply.
China has dismissed the hacking allegations as “irresponsible and unscientific.”
The cyber attacks were at top of the agenda of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue held between the US and China in Washington in late June.