COVID-19 Research: Two Chinese Charged in US Over Hackers

(Washington) The US Department of Justice on Tuesday announced the indictment of two Chinese accused of carrying out a series of computer attacks, in particular against companies engaged in the search for a vaccine against COVID- 19.

France Media Agency

These “two Chinese hackers were working with the Chinese Ministry of State Security,” John Demers, responsible for national security issues at the ministry, told a press conference.

Beyond the attacks against companies in a dozen Western countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom and Belgium, they also targeted “non-governmental organizations, religious and pro-democracy activists and human rights in the United States, China and Hong Kong, ”he added.

According to the American authorities, Li Xiaoyu, 34 years, and Dong Jiazhi, 25 years, had met during their engineering studies and stole trade secrets estimated at several hundreds of thousands of dollars for ten years.

Recently, they attacked Californian companies that were working to find vaccines, treatments or tests for the new coronavirus, according to the federal prosecutor in charge of the case, William Hyslop.

The two men, who have not been arrested and are a priori in China, operated for their own profit, but “sometimes also worked for the Chinese government”, according to Mr. Demers.

On 12 May, the US Federal Police and the Cybersecurity Agency issued a rare warning to US researchers working on the new coronavirus to warn them of the risk of Chinese piracy, which Beijing had firmly denied.

On July 7, FBI Director Christopher Wray reiterated these accusations. “At this very moment, China is working to compromise […] American research on COVID – 13”, he assured.

The government of Donald Trump has adopted in recent months a very critical tone towards China, accused by the president of having concealed the extent of the spread of the new coronavirus when it appeared in the center of the country in end of year 2019.