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Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Press Conference Announcing U.S. Charges Against Five Chinese Military Hackers for Cyber Espionage


Washington, DC
United States

Good Morning. I am joined here by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin; U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton; and Executive Director of the FBI Bob Anderson.

In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama called the theft of corporate secrets by foreign countries and companies a real threat to our security and our economy.

We are here this morning to discuss a matter that proves this threat, warned about by the President, is all too real.

Today, we are announcing an indictment against five officers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for serious cybersecurity breaches against six American victim entities.

These represent the first ever charges against known state actors for infiltrating U.S. commercial targets by cyber means.

A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh has found that these five Chinese military officers conspired together, and with others, to hack into the computers of organizations in Western Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the United States.

The victim entities include Westinghouse Electric, Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies Incorporated, U.S. Steel, the United Steelworkers Union and SolarWorld.

This is a case alleging economic espionage by members of the Chinese military.

The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands and aggressive response.

The indictment alleges that these PLA officers maintained unauthorized access to victim computers to steal information from those entities that would be useful to their competitors in China, including state-owned enterprises.

In some cases, they stole trade secrets that would have been particularly beneficial to Chinese companies at the time they were stolen.

In others, they stole sensitive, internal communications that would provide a competitor, or adversary in litigation, with insight into the strategy and vulnerabilities of the American entity.

In sum, the alleged hacking appears to have been conducted for no reason other than to advantage state-owned companies and other interests in China, at the expense of businesses here in the United States.

This is a tactic that the U.S. government categorically denounces. As President Obama has said on numerous occasions, we do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to U.S. companies, or U.S. commercial sectors.

Our economic security and our ability to compete fairly in the global marketplace are directly linked to our national security.

The success of American companies, since our nation’s founding, has been the result of hard work and fair play by our citizens.

This is how it ought to be across the globe. Success in the international marketplace should be based solely on a company’s ability to innovate and compete, not on a sponsor government’s ability to spy and steal business secrets.

When a foreign nation uses military or intelligence resources and tools against an American executive or corporation to obtain trade secrets or sensitive business information for the benefit of its state-owned companies, we must say, ‘enough is enough.’

This Administration will not tolerate actions by any nation that seeks to illegally sabotage American companies and undermine the integrity of fair competition in the operation of the free market.

This case should serve as a wake-up call to the seriousness of the ongoing cyberthreat. These criminal charges represent a groundbreaking step forward in addressing that threat.

The indictment makes clear that state actors who engage in economic espionage, even over the Internet from faraway offices in Shanghai, will be exposed for their criminal conduct and sought for apprehension and prosecution in an American court of law.

With that, it is my pleasure to turn it over to Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin.

Intellectual Property
Updated August 18, 2015