China slammed the cyber-espionage indictment against five military officers on Tuesday, calling for the United States to drop them before relations between the two countries are harmed.
In a statement, Qin Gang, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, “The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cyber theft of trade secrets,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “The U.S. accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded and absurd.”
Government officials also announced that the Cyber Working Group collaboration between the two countries was being halted for the time being and that the indictment against its military officers must be dropped.
As previously reported, officials spoke with the Washington Post and noted that the likelihood that the five Chinese hackers would ever actually be prosecuted was low and was more symbolic of how serious the United States viewed their actions.
The military officers are accused of hacking companies in an effort to steal trade secrets and Attorney General Eric Holder said they also made off with “sensitive, internal communications.”
Included in the indictment were the officers’ names, pictures, unit and the building where they are believe to work. Assistant attorney general for national security John Carlin said, “This indictment describes, with particularity, specific actions on specific days by specific actors to use their computers to steal information.”