A Chinese national flag flutters in the wind in between a high-rise residential and office complex in Beijing, China on May 19, 2014.
The United States government will charge members of the Chinese military with hacking and cyber-espionage against American businesses, the first time prosecutors have formally accused members of a foreign government with such crimes, according to multiple reports.
Attorney General Eric Holder will hold a press conference on Monday at 10 a.m. ET to announce charges in a national security case. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice declined to elaborate on what the press conference would be about, but U.S. officials confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that Holder would announce an indictment against five members of China's People's Liberation Army for hacking U.S. firms and stealing trade secrets.
The U.S. government has long accused the Chinese government of spying on American companies to steal intellectual property, but the indictment would be a milestone in what has until now been a rhetorical fight. China has always denied the accusations.
The details of the case are unclear at this point, but it's unlikely an actual prosecution would ever materialize, since the people charged are members of China's government. But the indictment is perhaps meant to send the message that the U.S. won't tolerate further Chinese cyberspying on its businesses.
Last year, a series of high-profile cases put Chinese hackers in headlines around the world. In January 2013, one of the first victims to go public was The New York Times, which revealed a sophisticated continuous attack on its servers originating from China, and, more specifically, Unit 61398 of the People's Liberation Army.