The AP moved a potential blockbuster story Wednesday night, citing multiple lawmakers who say their congressional computers have been hacked by people working from inside China.
The lawmakers suggested the Chinese were seeking lists of dissidents.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) told the AP that four of his computers were compromised beginning in 2006. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said two of the computers at his global human rights subcommittee were attacked in December 2006 and March 2007.
Both are longtime critics of China's human rights record and said the computers contained information on political dissidents worldwide.
House Foreign Affairs Committee spokeswoman Lynne Weil also told the AP that the committee was targeted by someone working from inside China during the same period.
Wolf told the AP he was discouraged from disclosing the hacking by people in the U.S. government he refused to identify.
''The problem has been that no one wants to talk about this issue,'' he said. ''Every time I've started to do something I've been told 'You can't do this.' A lot of people have made it very, very difficult.''