Federal prosecutors have charged the owner of a Chinese aviation firm with trying to steal data about U.S. military aircraft by hacking into the computer networks of Boeing and other U.S. companies, according to a federal complaint unsealed in Los Angeles this week.
The defendant, Su Bin, and two unindicted Chinese coconspirators allegedly stole information about Lockheed’s F-22 and F-35 fighter jets and Boeing’s C-17 transport plane, and in an email Su allegedly said the data would help China “stand easily on the giant’s shoulders.” Su also allegedly wrote that the information would "allow us to rapidly catch up with U.S. levels."
Su, AKA Stephen Su, was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in British Columbia at the request of the U.S. on June 28. According to the complaint, those involved in the conspiracy and the computer intrusions, which allegedly took place between 2009 and 2013, “gained remote access from China to information residing on the computer systems of U.S. companies including cleared defense contractors.”
The “evidence shows that Su” and his alleged co-conspirators “stole large quantities of data that relate to dozens of U.S. military projects,” the complaint said.
Su, who is described as the owner of a Chinese aviation technology company with an office in Canada, is scheduled to be in court in Vancouver, B.C. for a bail hearing in mid-July. Others remain under investigation “for their roles in the offense,” the complaint said.
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The complaint added that the two uncharged co-conspirators, who are affiliated with “multiple organizations in the PRC (People’s Republic of China),” had been involved in “network reconnaissance and intrusion operations” that included “gaining unauthorized access to business computers and networks -- targeting the United States and other foreign countries and obtaining information from them.”
First published July 11 2014, 3:42 PM
Andrew Blankstein is an investigative reporter for NBC News. He covers the Western United States, specializing in crime, courts and homeland security. Blankstein worked at the Los Angeles Times over two decades, much of that time covering breaking news, law enforcement and the justice system in Southern California both for the paper and latimes.com.
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He was part of the team of journalists that earned the paper Pulitzer Prizes in 1998 for the North Hollywood shootout and in 2004 for the Southern California wildfires. In 2010, he was named a "Distinguished Journalist" by the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Blankstein graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a degree in history and a secondary emphasis on public law.
He joined NBC News in 2013 and is based in Los Angeles.