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The U.S. Department of Justice reportedly plans to announce today that it has filed charges against members of China’s People’s Liberation Army for alleged cyberspying to steal secrets from American companies.
Government sources told The New York Times that Attorney General Eric Holder will have a press conference this morning. Unsealed documents released Monday are also expected to name the American companies that had been targets of hacking from China.
The Justice Department is also going to announce charges against hackers who used Blackshades, a software that allows hackers to control computers remotely.
The Washington Post reports that the charges will be filed in western Pennsylvania, where many of the hacked companies are located.
While officials told the Post that it is possible that the hackers may never be prosecuted, the indictment should send the message that the U.S. government is serious about the issue. U.S. officials have said several times that they will not put up with China stealing intellectual property from American companies.
The government is citing a Mandiant report from last year that linked a Chinese army unit to hacking into 140 U.S. and foreign companies. These groups are located in a building outside Shanghai, according to the report.
While both governments have agreed in the past to talk about cybersyping and cybersecurity, the Edward Snowden leaks have only complicated matters. Beijing is now able to accuse the U.S. of engaging in similar tactics thanks to the NSA documents that were made public.