Washington expects Chinese hackers to stand trial in US

“Our intention is for the defendants to have due process in an American court of law.”

“Our intention is for the defendants to have due process in an American court of law.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. said Monday it expects five Chinese officers to stand trial in U.S. courts following indictments relating to cyber espionage crimes, even as China has called the indictments “ungrounded.”

The alleged hacking was for the benefit of state-owned companies in China “at the expense of businesses here in the United States,” said Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, when announcing the indictments at a press conference.  

The indicted officers are all from Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, a unit that has consistently come up in U.S. allegations of Chinese spying. They include Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhu.

“Our intention is for the defendants to have due process in an American court of law,” said Holder.

The hacked American companies include Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies, SolarWorld, United States Steel and Westinghouse Electric, according to Holder. The United Steelworkers Union was also named as a target.

China has already lashed out at the indictments, calling them “ungrounded.”

“The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cyber theft of trade secrets,” said Qin Gang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, in a statement. “The US accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded with ulterior motives.”

Chinese officials also announced that they will suspend participation in the China-U.S. Cyber Working Group, created just last year as a bilateral forum for Washington and Beijing to tackle hacking allegations.

Such a move is regrettable, according to Jen Psaki, the State Department spokesperson.

“We regret China's decision on the suspension of activities of the working group. We continue to believe that dialogue is an essential part of resolving these and other cyber security concerns,” she said.

Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary added that the Obama administration expects China’s cooperation on the indictments while speaking to reporters Monday.

Monday’s announcement reflects the growing concern that the behavior that's been identified by China has continued, Carney said.  

“We certainly think there is ample opportunity for cooperation and coordination on these issues,” he said.

Carney further denied claims that the U.S.’ espionage activities are done for the benefit of U.S. companies, saying, “I can assure you we do not gather intelligence for the benefit of U.S. companies.”

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