(Adds Chinese Foreign Ministry comment)
By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO, March 23 (Reuters) - A businessman from China pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiring to hack into the computer networks of major U.S. defense contractors including Boeing Co, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
Su Bin, 50, faces a maximum five-year sentence for allegedly conspiring with two other people in China to obtain sensitive military information and export it illegally.
Su’s attorney, Robert Anello, said in an email: “In resolving this matter Su Bin hopes to move on with his life.”
According to U.S. government court filings, Su began working in 2008 to target U.S. companies. In 2010, he emailed a file to an unnamed individual in China which contained information about Boeing’s C-17 military transport aircraft.
Su also helped his co-conspirators decide which company employees to target, and translated documents from English to Chinese.
Arrested in Canada in 2014, Su ultimately consented to U.S. extradition, the Justice Department said.
Canadian media reported in January that two Chinese soldiers conspired with Su to obtain blueprints for F-35s and other jets.
The Chinese government has repeatedly denied any involvement in hacking.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked about the case at a daily news briefing in Beijing, said she was aware of the recent developments.
“The Chinese government consistently attaches importance to protecting the legitimate rights of Chinese citizens overseas. We will pay close attention to this case,” she said.
Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said the company “fully cooperated with the authorities throughout this process and we welcome this development.”
Sentencing is scheduled for July 13 before a Los Angeles federal judge. (Additional reporting by Jessica Macy Yu in BEIJING; Editing by G Crosse and James Dalgleish)