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US, UK Accuse China Over Spy Campaign That May Have Hit Millions

US, UK Accuse China Over Spy Campaign That May Have Hit Millions
By Daphne Psaledakis and James Pearson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. and British officials on Monday filed charges, imposed sanctions, and called out Beijing over a sweeping cyberespionage campaign that allegedly hit millions of people – including lawmakers, academics, journalists and more.

Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic accused the hacking group nicknamed “APT31” of being an arm of China’s Ministry of State of Security and reeled off a laundry list of targets: White House staffers, U.S. senators, British parliamentarians, and government officials across the world who criticized of Beijing. Defense contractors, dissidents, security companies were also hit, the officials said.

In an indictment unsealed on Monday against seven of the alleged Chinese hackers involved, U.S. prosecutors said the hacking resulted in the confirmed or potential compromise of work accounts, personal emails, online storage and telephone call records belonging to millions of Americans.

The aim of the global hacking operation was to “repress critics of the Chinese regime, compromise government institutions, and steal trade secrets,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement.

China’s Embassy in Washington did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the U.S. allegations, but the Chinese Embassy in London described the earlier U.K. charges as “completely fabricated and malicious slanders.”

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Reuters was not immediately able to locate contact information for the seven alleged hackers being charged by the Department of Justice.

The announcements were made as both Britain and the U.S. imposed sanctions on a firm they said was a Ministry of State Security front company.

The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said the sanctions were on Wuhan Xiaoruizhi Science and Technology, as well as on two Chinese nationals.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and James Pearson; additional reporting by Christopher Bing and Raphael Satter. Writing by Raphael Satter. Editing by David Gregorio and Marguerita Choy)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters.

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