A Twitter account belonging to China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom was allegedly breached by a hacker who used the account to engage with anti-Chinese content in what the government described as a “despicable” act.
The Twitter account for Ambassador Liu Xiaoming was compromised by “some anti-China” elements to “viciously” attack the ambassador and “deceive the public,” the Chinese Embassy in the U.K. said in a statement Wednesday. The announcement came after social media users noticed that Liu’s account had “liked” a pornographic video, and a number of tweets criticizing Beijing’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim population. One tweet said Chinese officials “paid lip service to non-interference” in China’s internal affairs so the government “could murder their own people.”
Liu’s account was created in October, though Twitter remains blocked in mainland China. Twitter likes do not always indicate endorsements, as many journalists and other users press the “like” button to organize tweets, or to revisit specific messages later.
The Chinese Embassy was clear in its allegation, though, that Liu’s account was breached, and called for an investigation into the matter.
“The Embassy has reported this to Twitter company and urged the latter to make thorough investigations and handle this matter seriously,” the statement said. “The Embassy reserves the right to take further actions and hope that the public will not believe or spread such rumor.”
Twitter declined a request for comment.
Public figures frequently claim to be the victim of data breaches when caught in potentially embarrassing situations.
As ambassador to the U.K., Liu previously said the relationship between London and Beijing has been “seriously poisoned” over accusations that the Chinese government is committing human rights abuses against the Uighur population. Witness reports, video footage and human rights advocates have warned that China has locked more than 1 million people, many of them Uighur Muslims, into concentration camps in order to repress ethnic populations.
This incident comes less than two months after an unrelated data breach in which attackers hijacked Twitter accounts belonging to Joe Biden, Bill Gates and other high profile users as part of a bitcoin scam. That account takeover incident occurred after attackers phoned some Twitter employees, then used information gathered during those calls to infiltrate user accounts.
Three people have been charged in connection with that data breach, which resulted in a reported $117,000 in ill-gotten gains.