The Department of Justice indicted 10 Chinese intelligence officers for allegedly stealing confidential aviation information from U.S. and European companies.
All 10 defendants have ties to China’s Ministry of State Security, the country’s top intelligence agency, the Justice Department said.
Prosecutors allege that from January 2010 to May 2015, the intelligence officers and their team of hackers sought to steal the technology behind a turbofan engine used in U.S. and European commercial airlines. To achieve that goal, the prosecutors hacked companies that manufacture parts for the turbofan engine, including companies based in France, Arizona, Massachusetts and Oregon.
At the time of the hacks, a Chinese state-owned aerospace company was working to develop a comparable engine for use in commercial aircraft manufactured in China and elsewhere.
Charges against the defendants include substantive offense of computer hacking, separate conspiracy to hack computers and attempted theft of trade secrets related to jet aircraft engines. All 10 are charged in the Southern District of California.
“This action is yet another example of criminal efforts by the MSS to facilitate the theft of private data for China’s commercial gain,” said Adam Braverman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. “The concerted effort to steal, rather than simply purchase, commercially available products should offend every company that invests talent, energy, and shareholder money into the development of products.”