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Chinese businessman gets nearly 4 years in US prison for hacking case

Defendant worked with two hackers in China for several years, targeting sensitive military technical data for theft.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
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A Chinese businessman has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for conspiring to hack the computer systems of Boeing and other US defense contractors to steal military technical data.

Su Bin, a Chinese national and the owner of a Chinese aviation technology company, was sentenced Wednesday in US District Court in Los Angeles to 46 months in prison. Bin, 51, had faced up to 30 years in prison before pleading guilty in March to a federal charge of conspiracy to unlawfully access computers in the United States. The sentence comes amid heightened tensions between the two nations over computer espionage.

Su worked with the two unidentified hackers in China between 2008 and 2014, instructing them on what data to target and transmit to state-owned Chinese companies. The trio 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, the Justice Department said.

"Su Bin's sentence is a just punishment for his admitted role in a conspiracy with hackers from the People's Liberation Army Air Force to illegally access and steal sensitive U.S. military information," Assistant Attorney General Carlin said in a statement. "Su assisted the Chinese military hackers in their efforts to illegally access and steal designs for cutting-edge military aircraft that are indispensable to our national defense."