Associated Press initially reported that three foreign journalists and one analyst have seen their email accounts hacked into today. The New York Times subsequently reported that there were "at least a dozen rights activists, academics and journalists who cover China," including the author Andrew Jacobs.
"They were greeted with messages saying, 'We've detected an issue with your account' and were told to contact Yahoo, they said Tuesday. Yahoo technicians told one of the four that his account had been hacked and restored his access, but it was not clear if the other instances were related."
Jacobs reported that "hackers altered (his) e-mail settings so that all correspondence was surreptitiously forwarded to another e-mail address."
Among those affected were Clifford Coonan of Variety magazine and Kathleen McLaughlin, a freelancer.
Agence France Presse reported that Yahoo! was avoiding directly addressing the hacks, saying only that it "condemns all cyberattacks regardless of origin or purpose."
Yahoo! was roundly condemned for hurriedly turning over user information on reporter Shi Tao to the Chinese security forces in 2005. Their actions resulted in a long prison term for Shi for sharing Chinese media coverage policy with foreign sources. The late U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos called CEO Jerry Yang a "moral pygmy" for his collusion and subsequent slippery excuse-making.
Earlier today, intermittent blocking of Google was reported in the country.
China has the most sophisticated and widespread online censorship regime in the world, dovetailing social measures, criminal statutes and electronic measures. Additionally, some believe that government-sponsored, or at least encouraged, hackers have been behind multiple attacks on the properties of foreign companies, like the one that occasioned Google's surprising announcement of its intended withdrawal from China in January.