View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

BBC China crew detained by military after filming ‘cyber-warfare headquarters’

By Andrew Pugh

A BBC crew was detained and their video footage confiscated by the Chinese military during its investigations into a secretive cyber espionage group.

Beijing correspondent John Elsworthy was among those detained by military personnel following the publication of a report by US cyber security firm Mandiant claiming to have pinpointed the home of the cyber warfare unit at a “non-descript” complex in Shanghai.

Elsworthy and his crew were stopped “pretty promptly from filming” outside building, which was said to house one of the world's "most prolific cyber espionage groups", Unit 61398.

“We were stopped pretty promptly from filming,” Elsworthy told the BBC. “We were briefly detained by the military personnel on the gates, taken inside the base and they refused to let us go until we had agreed to surrender our tape.

“The Reuters news agencies were able to pick up some footage, and you can see form those pictures that this is a pretty nondescript building.

“Certainly it doesn’t look likely to be the nerve centre of one of the most effective and prolific cyber warfare operations ever mounted…”

According to Mandiant, Unit 61398 has “systematically stolen hundreds of terabytes of data" from at least 141 organisations around the world.

Content from our partners
Mather Economics and InsurAds combine to help publishers boost revenue
Press Gazette publishes ultimate guide to reader conversion and monetisation
Slow online ads cost UK publishers £50m a year: Here's how to fix them

In recent weeks both the Washington Post and New York Times claim to have be subject to hacking attacks emanating from China.

Topics in this article :

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network