While on a visit to the US, 36-year-old Yu Pingan of Shanghai was arrested because of a federal criminal complaint accusing him of collaborating with others to launch cyberattacks against a series of unnamed US companies using malicious software.
The same program was used in multiple major breaches in the US including the 2014-2015 OPM breach, which resulted in the exposure of government employees' personal information, such as their addresses, social security numbers and fingerprints. US officials have blamed the attack on the Chinese government, but Chinese authorities denied any involvement.
The complaint doesn't directly accuse Yu — who authorities said used the nickname GoldSun — of personally being responsible for the OPM hacking but suggests there may be a connection.
Yu's court-appointed attorney, Michael Berg, claimed the detained man was a teacher with no affiliation with the Chinese government.
"He says he has no involvement in this whatsoever," Berg said, adding that Yu came to Los Angeles for a conference, as reported by Reuters.
Yu remains in jail pending a court hearing on his detention next week.