News and Commentary

China Claims U.K. Envoy’s Twitter Account Was Hacked After ‘Liking’ Pornographic Video
Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK, arrives at the BBC Broadcasting House in central London to appear on The Andrew Marr Show on 19 July 2020 in London, England.
WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The old “I didn’t do it, I was hacked,” excuse.

The Twitter account of Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, on Wednesday “liked” a pornographic video. This “like” reportedly remained visible for more than an hour before it was removed, the Agence France-Presse reported. While it was up, it garnered “a stream of comments and reactions.”

China’s embassy in London is now claiming the ambassador’s Twitter account was hacked and demanding the tech company investigate the matter.

“Some anti-China elements viciously attacked Ambassador Liu Xiaoming’s Twitter account and employed despicable methods to deceive the public,” the embassy said in a statement, according to the AFP.

“The embassy has reported this to Twitter company and urged the latter to make thorough investigations and handle this matter seriously,” the statement continued. “The Embassy reserves the right to take further actions and hope that the public will not believe or spread such rumour.”

A Twitter spokesman declined to provide a statement to the AFP.

More from the outlet:

Liu is known as one of China’s most outspoken diplomats, using a pugnacious approach in media interviews and online to defend his government.

Twitter and pornography are officially banned in China, which the ruling Communist Party heavily censors.

However China’s diplomats and journalists for the state-run media have in recent years set up Twitter accounts to promote and defend the government to foreigners.

The hacking excuse has been used by politicians before to hide their indiscretions. The most famous example was disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), who claimed his Facebook account was hacked after a lewd photo of him surfaced.

“The weiner gags never get old, I guess, ” Weiner said at the time.

The photo was actually sent in a Twitter message to a college woman in Seattle. After denying that he sent the photo and claiming that he was hacked, Weiner admitted that he had sent the photo and resigned. Years later he ran for New York City mayor, saying he put his past indiscretions behind him. Months into his campaign, new messages and photos surfaced and he was forced to end his campaign.

Another example, though less conclusive, comes from former Lowell, Indiana town council president William Farrellbegg, whose associated Twitter handle interacted with pornographic content, including depictions of sexual violence and comments about incest. Farrellbegg at first confirmed to The Times of Northwest Indiana that the account in question was his, as it had also been used to promote his campaign. He later said a different account belonged to him but also said the account he originally said was his had to have been hacked. A week after the interactions surfaced, Farrellbegg resigned, maintaining his innocence but saying the situation was “too much to bear.” He said at the time he was “looking into all avenues to clear my name.”

That was in February. No new information has been reported about Farrellbegg since.

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