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China national indicted for hacking military secrets from U.S. contractors

The F-35C (Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin)A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted a Chinese citizen on five felony offenses for a computer hacking scheme that targeted American defense contractors building military aircraft.

Su Bin -- who also used the names Stephen Su, Stephen Subin and Steven Subin -- was named in a five-count indictment returned Thursday afternoon and filed in United States District Court, the DOJ said Friday.

He's now in custody in British Columbia, Canada, where he's being held pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant issued by the United States.

The indictment alleges that Su, a 49-year-old businessman, worked with two unindicted co-conspirators based in China to infiltrate computer systems and obtain confidential information about United States military aircraft programs, including two advanced stealth fighters -- the F-22 and F-35 -- and the C-17 military transport aircraft.

Between 2008 and 2012, Shu allegedly sent emails in Chinese and English to his co-conspirators attaching documents with thousands of pages of technical information that included controlled data and trade secrets.

The information covered the design, testing, production, and ongoing maintenance of the jet fighters and transport aircraft.

Shu also allegedly took documents describing how contractors competed for the military projects.

The F-35 "Lightning" is still in flight testing. It's made by Lockheed Martin. It can hover and perform short and vertical take-offs and landings on carriers.

The F-22 "Raptor" was developed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Both aircraft are fifth generation fighters capable of supersonic and stealth performance.

The C-17 transport is made by Boeing Company.

"The indictment specifically alleges three charges related to unauthorized computer access, a conspiracy to illegally export defense articles, and a conspiracy to steal trade secrets," the DOJ said.

The charges carry a total maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.