Canadian researchers say they have discovered a large China-based electronic spying operation that infiltrated computers and stole information from government and private offices around the world, including the Dalai Lama.

The New York Times and the Associated Press quote researchers at the University of Toronto as saying close to 1,300 computers in 103 countries were affected.

The article says embassies, foreign ministries, government offices and Tibetan exile centers in several countries were affected, but that there is no evidence that U.S. government offices were breached.

The researchers say they were able to track the hacking effort to computers in China, but were unable to identiffy exactly who was behind the operation.  The spy system appeared to be focused on governments of South Africa, Southeast Asia and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
The Chinese Consulate in New York called the accusation nonsense.

The New York Times says the researchers began their investigation after a request from the Dalai Lama office in India.  It says that two specialists found that intruders had stolen files from personal computers serving several Tibetan exile groups.

The researchers say the spy network possessed remarkable capabilities, including camera and audio-recording functions of infected computers for potential in-room monitoring.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.