Two Chinese nationals were charged with trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine work and hack hundreds of companies in the U.S. and abroad, namely defence contractors, the U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday. Li Xiaoyu, 34, and Dong Jiazhi, 33, have threatened human rights activists in the U.S., China and Hong Kong, said John Demers, Assistant Attorney General.
The indictment comes in the face of rising tensions among the global superpowers fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic blamed on China by President Donald Trump. In some cases, Li and Dong, who are assumed to be in China, behaved “for their own personal gain” and in others for the profit of China’s State Security Ministry, Demers said at a news conference.
Li and Dong, who were classmates at an electrical engineering college in Chengdu, has been involved in a computer hacking program for the past 10 years, the Justice Department said. We have targeted companies in the U.S., Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and the UK, it added.
Two Chinese Nationals Targeted Pharmaceuticals
Officials at the Justice Department said Li and Dong were targeting pharmaceutical companies in California, Maryland, Massachusetts and elsewhere but did not seem to have directly compromised any COVID-19 work.
According to the indictment, Li and Dong issued passwords for personal email accounts. They belong to Chinese activists to the Ministry of State Security. Also, a Hong Kong community leader, the pastor of a Christian church in Xian. Also, a former protester from Tiananmen Square. The supposedly stolen information contained emails between a dissident and the Dalai Lama ‘s office.
The pair accuse of stealing tech companies’ source code, pharmaceutical firms’ knowledge about medications. It is under production, and military designs, and defence contractors’ data processing. No name identify to target foreign companies. But they included a Dutch electronics firm, a Swedish gaming company, a Lithuanian gaming company. A German software engineering firm, a Belgian software engineering firm. Also, an Australian defence contractor, a South Korean shipbuilding firm, a Spanish electronics and security firm. Also, a British artificial intelligence and cancer research firm, according to the indictment.
Li and Dong reportedly stole information about military satellite projects, military wireless networks and communications systems. Also, microwave and laser systems from the defence contractors. The indictment hand down by a grand jury in Washington State ‘s Eastern District. It is on July 7 but unseals only on Tuesday. Li and Dong accuse of conspiracy to commit computer fraud. Also, conspiracy to commit trade secrets, wire fraud, unauthorized computer access and identity theft.
Last month, China accused the United States of smearing Beijing on claims. The Chinese hackers were seeking to steal work into coronavirus. The allegations intensified tensions between the two countries that exchanged barbs. It is over the sources of the pandemic that killed over 600,000 people. It is after it arose late last year in China.