State Department questioned Chinese official on Change.org attack

The State Department directly questioned a Chinese official about a U.S. website that was allegedly attacked by Chinese hackers this year.

Change.org, a platform for activists to build digital campaigns, came under attack in April after customers posted a petition supporting jailed Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, an outspoken critic of Chinese authorities. 

The attack garnered congressional attention as Change.org called on the State Department to intervene. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) condemned the attacks, as did Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).

In a letter to DeLauro, released Tuesday, the State Department informed the congresswoman that it pursued the issue with a Chinese official.

"Deputy Assistant Secretary Dan Baer raised the case of Change.org directly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while in Beijing, referring to your letter received two days prior to the Dialogue," states the letter to DeLauro from Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Joseph Macmanus. 

“Attacks like the one Change.org experienced are an increasingly common form of online disruption,” it says. “As part of the State Department’s Internet freedom initiative, we support efforts to protect groups and individuals from such attacks.."

Change.org has worked in recent weeks to get congressional attention about the cyberattack, which it has framed as stifling to free speech.