Chinese hackers reportedly get death sentence

Mainland China is continuing its crackdown on alleged Internet-related crimes, reportedly sentencing to death on December 28 two men accused of hacking into a bank computer network and stealing 260,000 renminbi ($US31,400).

The two men -- Hao Jinglong and his brother Hao Jingwen -- were sentenced to death late last year by the Yangzhou Intermediate Court in Jiangsu province, according to a Reuters report. The pair were accused of breaking into and installing a controlling device in a bank computer terminal in a branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the report said. Hao Jinglong was previously an accountant at the Zhenjiang branch of the bank, the report added.

After opening 16 different bank accounts in September, the brothers used the controlling device to electronically transfer 720,000 renminbi in non-existent deposits into the various accounts, the report said. The duo was then able to withdraw 260,000 renminbi from eight different bank branches before their actions were detected and all the money was recovered by the bank, the report added.

Earlier in December, two men were executed in China for allegedly smuggling PCs and electronics worth $6.7 million into the Mainland. Around the same time, Lin Hai, the owner of Shanghai-based Zhengfang Software Co., was found guilty on charges of "inciting the overthrow of state power," after having allegedly provided the e-mail addresses of 30,000 Chinese computer users to a Washington, D.C.-based pro-democracy Internet publication. Lin is still awaiting sentencing.

According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International, the Chinese government executed at least 1,876 people in 1997 and 4,367 people in 1996.

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