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US Charges 2 Chinese Intel Officers with Stealing Aviation Secrets, Tech Data

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The US Department of Justice charged two Chinese intelligence officers on Tuesday with stealing aviation secrets and technological data for years.

The charged intelligence officers were identified as Zha Rong and Chai Meng. Both defendants worked for the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security (JSSD) in Nanjing. Co-conspirators were listed as Zhang Zhang-Gui, Liu Chunliang, Gao Hong Kun, Zhuang Xiaowei, and Ma Zhiqi.

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"Chinese intelligence officers and those working under their direction, which included hackers and co-opted company insiders, conducted or otherwise enabled repeated intrusions into private companies’ computer systems in the United States and abroad for over five years," a statement from the Justice Department reads.

"The conspirators’ ultimate goal was to steal, among other data, intellectual property and confidential business information, including information related to a turbofan engine used in commercial airliners."

According to the statement, the JSSD officers, from at least January 2010 to May 2015, focused on acquiring information about a turbofan engine used in US and European commercial airliners. "This engine was being developed through a partnership between a French aerospace manufacturer with an office in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China, and a company based in the United States," it explains.

Zha and Chai, along with their team of hacksters,  reportedly hacked aerospace companies that were based in Arizona, Massachusetts and Oregon.

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"For the third time since only September, the National Security Division, with its US Attorney partners, has brought charges against Chinese intelligence officers from the JSSD and those working at their direction and control for stealing American intellectual property," John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for National Security, said.

"This is just the beginning. Together with our federal partners, we will redouble our efforts to safeguard America's ingenuity and investment."

This latest development comes weeks after the US Department of Justice announced earlier this month that it would be extraditing a JSSD intelligence officer, who attempted to steal trade secrets over jet engines, and a US Army recruit who was accused of working for the JSSD in September.

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