May 19, 2014 at 8:51 AM
(NEW YORK) -- The United States government is set to file charges against government officials in China for allegedly hacking U.S. business interests, marking the first time ever that the U.S. government has formally accused another nation of using the Internet to break into U.S. businesses and gain unfair economic advantage, ABC News has learned.
The move carries enormous diplomatic implications, as the Justice Department and FBI are expected to announce charges today against several Chinese officials, according to sources. The charges will include economic espionage and theft of trade secrets.
The officials, five in total, are tied to the Chinese military, sources say. Charging documents will accuse them of, among other things, stealing information related to a nuclear power plant and information from a company that made solar panels.
U.S. intelligence officials have long believed that the Chinese government has been engaged in a state-sponsored campaign to hack U.S. interests and steal research and development. U.S. officials insist such efforts affect national security.
A formal announcement is expected this morning in Washington from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, John Carlin, and others.
The charges will be filed in the Western District of Pennsylvania. It’s unclear why the U.S. government chose to file the charges in that district.
As soon as the charges are announced, the Chinese officials will officially become "wanted" men, but it’s unknown if they will ever be taken into custody.
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