The US has pulled CIA agents from its embassy in China's capital Beijing in response to records compromised in cyber attacks, reported "The Washington Post." The attacks are said to have originated in China.
The US Central Intelligence Agency withdrew a number of its agents from the American embassy in China's capital Beijing following two cyber attacks on the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), reported "The Washington Post" on Thursday.
In July, the US government said that hackers stole data of more than 21 million public employees, including vital records and background checks for State Department staff, between 2014 and 2015.
US authorities blamed the attacks on China, although Beijing has consistently denied the accusations.
"The Washington Post," citing senior US officials, said the cyber attacks were carried out with the intention of identifying intelligence agents for the purpose of obtaining sensitive information via blackmail or recruitment.
By comparing the stolen OPM records with the names of those working at the US embassy in Beijing, parties could effectively identify who is a spy, since intelligence agents are not subject to State Department background checks.
The Washington-based periodical added that the CIA acted to safeguard the agents' safety.
Meanwhile, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a congressional panel on Tuesday that both the US and China engage cybertheft, expressing skepticism over the attack as a form of espionage.
Earlier this week, US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jingping agreed to stop conducting or support cybertheft of their respective countries' business secrets.
ls/kms (AFP, Reuters)