A new report revealed that the Chinese spy craft that flew over the U.S. at the beginning of this year was communicating with mainland China via an American internet provider.
Two current and one former Biden administration officials told NBC News in a Thursday report that the craft used a U.S. internet provider to receive mainly navigational communications.
NBC News did not name the internet provider in the report. The company denied that the Chinese spy craft used its services and had come to that conclusion via its own investigation as well as talking to U.S. officials.
One official said the spy craft, which was shot down by the U.S. military off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4, used high-bandwidth data collections known as burst transmissions to send information.
The report also said the Biden administration asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a highly secretive order to collect intelligence on the craft as it flew over several states.
The officials said that order would have allowed the government to monitor the spy craft’s communications during its journey.
Several officials said in the report that, in the past, China has secretly used commercial internet providers in different nations as backup communications networks. Encrypted networks are often sought out for their security.
Chinese embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu claimed to NBC News that the craft was a weather balloon that had drifted off-course.
“As we had made it clear before, the airship, used for meteorological research, unintentionally drifted into U.S. because of the westerlies and its limited self-steering capability,” Liu said. “The facts are clear.”
The office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment to Fox News Digital.
Fox News Digital reached out to the White House and Chinese Embassy for comment.
Despite Biden administration officials assuring the American public that the Chinese spy balloon did not collect and transmit data, a previously unreported phone call paints a different picture of top officials hiding information about the balloon.
According to NBC News, a Jan. 27 phone call between President Biden’s top military adviser, Gen. Mark Milley, and NORAD chief Gen. Glen VanHerck sheds new light on China’s surveillance balloon. The network also reported that the administration initially hoped to keep the balloon’s existence a secret from Congress and the public, citing multiple former and current administration and congressional officials.
“Before it was spotted publicly, there was the intention to study it and let it pass over and not ever tell anyone about it,” one former senior U.S. official told NBC.
A senior Biden administration official denied allegations of an attempt to conceal the incident, saying decisions were made to protect sensitive intelligence capabilities.
Fox News Digital’s Sarah Rumpf-Whitten contributed to this report.