The US Department of Justice has charged a Chinese businessman with hacking the computer systems of Boeing and other US defense contractors, amid growing tensions over computer espionage.
Su Bin, a Chinese national and the owner of a Chinese aviation technology company, conspired with two individuals in China to steal information related to military projects from the computer networks of US companies, according to court filings unsealed Friday. Su worked with the two unidentified hackers in China between 2009 and 2013, instructing them on what data to target and sometimes attempting to sell it to state-owned Chinese companies, according to the 50-page criminal complaint.
The trio allegedly stole 65 gigabytes of sensitive information related to fighter jets such as the F-22 and the F-35 as well as Boeing's C-17 military cargo aircraft program. Su, owner of a Chinese aviation company called Lode Tech, was arrested in Canada on June 28, according to the Canadian Department of Justice.
The US Justice Department is seeking Su's extradition to face computer hacking charges, a department spokesperson said.
"We remain deeply concerned about cyber-enabled theft of sensitive information and we have repeatedly made it clear that the United States will continue using all the tools our government possesses to strengthen cybersecurity and confront cybercrime," Marc Raimondi, a Justice Department spokesman, told The New York Times.
Boeing said it cooperated with the investigation.
"We appreciate that the government brought its concerns about a potential compromise of our protected computer systems to our attention," Chicago-based Boeing said in a statement. "Our cooperation with the government's investigation demonstrates the company's commitment to holding accountable individuals who perpetrate economic espionage or trade secret theft against US companies."
Allegations of computer hacking is a sore subject between the US and China. Both countries have publicly accused the other of breaking into their servers to steal information.
Last month, the US Justice Department filed charges against five alleged Chinese military hackers. They are charged with hacking American corporations and stealing information. China has denied the allegations. Chinese hackers also worked their way into US government servers in March in an attempt to steal information on thousands of federal employees with top-secret clearance, according to The New York Times.