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US brings cyber-espionage charges against Chinese officials

DOJ: Chinese Military Members Stole U.S. Trade Secrets


By ERIC TUCKER

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States has brought first-of-its kind cyber-espionage charges against five Chinese military officials accused of hacking into U.S. companies to gain trade secrets.

According to the indictment announced Monday, hackers targeted the U.S. nuclear power, metals and solar products industries and are accused of stealing trade secrets and economic espionage. The alleged victims are Alcoa World Alumina, Westinghouse Electric Co., Allegheny Technologies, U.S. Steel Corp., United Steelworkers Union, and SolarWorld, Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday.

The charges have been described as unprecedented and dramatize a long-time Obama administration goal to prosecute state-sponsored cyber threats.

"In sum, the alleged hacking appears to have been conducted for no other reason than to advantage state-owned companies and other interests in China at the expense of businesses here in the United States," Holder told a news conference at the Justice Department. "This is a tactic that the United States government categorically denounces."

Said Bob Anderson Jr., executive assistant director of the FBI's criminal, cyber response and services division: "This is the new normal. This is what you're going to see on a recurring basis."

No officials in China were available Monday night for comment.

The charges against the Chinese military officials come on the heels of a separate worldwide operation over the weekend that resulted in the arrest of 97 people in 16 countries who are suspected of developing, distributing or using malicious software called BlackShades, Holder said. The software allows criminals to gain surreptitious control of personal computers. An announcement on those arrests was expected for later Monday in New York.

"These two cases show that we are stepping up our cyber enforcement efforts really around the globe," Holder said, adding that the U.S. will not tolerate these activities.

U.S. officials have previously asserted that China's army and China-based hackers had launched attacks on American industrial and military targets, often to steal secrets or intellectual property. China has said that it faces a major threat from hackers, and the country's military is believed to be among the biggest targets of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command.

"It is our hope that the Chinese government will respect our criminal justice system," Holder said.

The indictment will put a greater strain on the U.S.-China relationship.

In recent months, Washington has been increasingly critical of what it describes as provocative Chinese actions in pursuit of territorial claims in disputed seas in East Asia. For its part, Beijing complains that the Obama administration's attempt to redirect its foreign policy toward Asia after a decade of war in the Middle East is emboldening China's neighbors and causing tension.

The hackers allegedly stole emails and other communications that could have helped Chinese firms learn the strategies and weaknesses of American companies involved in litigation with the Chinese government or Chinese firms.

Despite the ominous-sounding allegations, at least one of the firms downplayed the hacking.

"To our knowledge, no material information was compromised during this incident, which occurred several years ago," said Monica Orbe, Alcoa's director of corporate affairs. "Safeguarding our data is a top priority for Alcoa, and we continue to invest resources to protect our systems."

Last September, President Barack Obama discussed cybersecurity issues on the sidelines of a summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"China not only does not support hacking but also opposes it," Premier Li Keqiang said last year in a news conference when asked if China would stop hacking U.S. websites. "Let's not point fingers at each other without evidence but do more to safeguard cyber security."

---

Associated Press reporters Matthew Pennington in Washington, Joe Mandak in Pittsburgh and Didi Tang in Beijing contributed to this story.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Paul May 19 2014 at 4:28 PM

When are charges going to be brought against Holder ????????????????

Flag Reply +12 rate up
1 reply
lightninbob1 Paul May 19 2014 at 4:44 PM

I would guess it will happen at the exact moment Obama acts like a leader.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
shishkkab0b lightninbob1 May 19 2014 at 4:48 PM

In other words..when Hell freezes over.

Flag 0 rate up
ncord24634 May 19 2014 at 4:24 PM

I want all of you to thank Mr Edward Snowen He showed us how corrupt this US govt really is

Flag Reply +11 rate up
joe.bagofdonuts May 19 2014 at 3:50 PM

The Blind Leading The Blind. Or should I say , The community Organizer And his Best Friend.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
rudimario joe.bagofdonuts May 19 2014 at 3:58 PM

Hey loser, your hero, Dick Nixon opened the door with that sleeping den of thieves. Rightwing, couldn't wait to get their hands on all of that Chinese income. How'd that work our for you rightwingers?

Flag Reply +4 rate up
3 replies
fr33w May 19 2014 at 3:30 PM

I hope China don’t lend USA anymore money
because we can't pay what we already owe.
Don’t worry about the girls in Africa,
take care of the ones here in the USA.
Stop giving millions of $$$$ to other countries.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
1 reply
theshift33 fr33w May 19 2014 at 4:09 PM

That is not part of the Global Agenda plan. It's on a fast track now. Spreading the wealth is not always a bad thing but the corruption, scandals, blood shed and collateral damage that will ride on it's back will now be our ongoing 24/7 news.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
spencecovey May 19 2014 at 12:03 PM

The pot calling the kettle black.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
2 replies
joeboken08 spencecovey May 19 2014 at 12:08 PM

We don't spy private companies overseas for monetary gain, we spy for threats against our people and to protect this country. There is a difference.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
ghidra15 joeboken08 May 19 2014 at 1:30 PM

Keep telling yourself that. They've brainwashed you. The Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves, wondering how they could've possibly founded a country that has people like you.

Flag 0 rate up
now and then spencecovey May 19 2014 at 12:11 PM

Us hacking China government is spying as usual. China hacking US businesses is going beyond the norm of acceptability. That's the difference because business hacking undermines the economic basis.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Welcome MSGT May 19 2014 at 3:43 PM

Hey Holder.....how about filing charges against people in the obama admin. for lying to congress. How about filing charges on yourself for lying to congress. How about filing charges on some people that let 4 Americans die in Bengahzi. How about filing charges on people in the IRS/ How about filing charges against people in the VA. I'm tired of typing so I will take a break. I will be back with another list.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
2 replies
steves1709 Welcome MSGT May 19 2014 at 3:51 PM

Yeah, and file charges against George W for getting thousands of our soldiers maimed and killed over fictional WMD's.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
4 replies
rmjrburton Welcome MSGT May 19 2014 at 3:58 PM

At least the DOJ could make some charges count against American felons. He has opened up a can of woop*ss with the Chinese now and he will run like a little boy. He is really helping the money begging team that has to meet with the Chinese to pay his salary. Maybe the 1st lady can engineer a cardboard sign to say sorry we need more money.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
lakelanierlady May 19 2014 at 12:30 PM

Why would the USA want to pick a fight with the Chinese that we cannot possibly win? It is a puzzling question unless one looks at the political consequences of this move. It will certainly make such a stir that, hopefully, it will take the attention away from the White House and the serious heat that it should be getting from the IRS trouble, the VA trouble, the Bengazi trouble, and many other things that the Democrats are wanting swept under the carpet. So, by all means create a "new crisis"!

Flag Reply +10 rate up
3 replies
uptic007 May 19 2014 at 1:45 PM

Just more of the incompetent Obama team we have come to accept as the new normal. Cant wait for 2016 elections!!!!!

Flag Reply +9 rate up
Happy May 19 2014 at 3:26 PM

Fast & Furious, Benghazi and the support of Obama Care. Holder is the man. His credentials match Mrs. Clinton's for honesty!!!

Flag Reply +9 rate up
2 replies
rmjrburton Happy May 19 2014 at 3:34 PM

Yea, but he needs more lessons from the Clinton's in the art of lying. Poor Eric looks stupid to most Americans because he lies and is not credible. Maybe in Nov. he can have the black panthers insure the elections for the black agenda.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
ilove.usa rmjrburton May 19 2014 at 3:40 PM

Eric looks stupid because he is stupid, this whole administration is stupid and criminals at the same time

Flag +4 rate up
hsenpfeffer Happy May 19 2014 at 3:37 PM

Ignoring warnings of the WTC attack, Katrina, the financial crash of 2008, lying about WMDs, attacking a country that had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks,; your record matches the bushjunior steaming pile for honesty.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
4 replies
Herbert Cline May 19 2014 at 4:25 PM

our gov't spies on us citizens everyday...so what is the big deal with China doing it...what a waste...Holder is an idiot!!!

Flag Reply +9 rate up
2 replies
orrie461 Herbert Cline May 19 2014 at 4:35 PM

They are getting what they deserve! What goes around comes around! How does it feel now what you're being spied on? Especially when you suck up to the Chinese for loans! I guess they feel you owe them more than just dollars!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
tippy301 Herbert Cline May 19 2014 at 4:44 PM

That's, 'Mr. Attorney General Idiot', to you, Herbert; and a very "useful idiot" he is, for the forces of darkness - Soros & his toadies, in the White House.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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