The U.S. Justice Department has accused 10 Chinese nationals, including two intelligence officials and six hackers, with stealing American and European aerospace technology secrets. Here is the department’s press release; click here to download the full indictment.
- This is the second indictment the Justice Department has unsealed against China this month — earlier, a Chinese intelligence official was extradited to the U.S. for the first time ever from Belgium, and put to trial, also for stealing aerospace secrets.
- Like the earlier case, the Chinese spying allegedly centered around the Ministry of State Security (MSS) office in Jiangsu Province.
- Zha Rong and Chai Meng are the named intelligence officers. The indictment says that they conspired with a team of five hackers — Zhang Zhang-Gui, Liu Chunliang, Gao Hong Kun, Zhuang Xiaowei, and Ma Zhiqi — and two Chinese employees at a French aerospace company in Suzhou, China. A separate conspiracy involved Zhang Zhang-Gui and a sixth hacker, Li Xing.
- The French company might be Safran Aircraft Engines — Bill Bishop notes (paywall) that they have an industrial park in Suzhou, though the indictment does not confirm the name of the company.
- The spies and hackers broke into computers at the aerospace company in Suzhou, and also the computer networks of a dozen other companies. These range from a “Massachusetts-based aerospace company,” to an “Oregon-based aerospace supplier,” to an “Australian domain registrar,” the indictment says.
- The hacks occurred from 2010 to 2015, and targeted jet engine technology, the indictment indicates.
The Wall Street Journal reports (paywall) that more indictments are expected soon:
Prosecutors are also expected to announce charges in coming days against another set of hackers linked to the Chinese government. Those hackers have allegedly targeted information-technology service providers for the purposes of espionage and intellectual-property theft, according to people familiar with the matter.