Five Chinese military hackers were charged with illegally penetrating the computer networks of U.S. companies. (Courtesy of the FBI)

As my colleague Ellen Nakashima reported, earlier this morning the Justice Department charged five members of the Chinese military with conducting economic cyber-espionage against U.S. companies, the first time that the United States has brought such criminal charges against a foreign country.

How did the Chinese government react to the news? The Foreign Ministry said the U.S. government “fabricated facts” in the indictment, which it said “seriously violates basic norms of international relations and damages Sino-U.S. cooperation and mutual trust.” According to the statement, China has formally filed a “protest” with the United States, urging it to “correct the error immediately and revoke its so-called prosecution.”

The five members of the People's Liberation Army — Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu and Gu Chunhui — belong to Unit 61398 of the 3rd Department of the People’s Liberation Army, based out of a building in Shanghai. All of them have been accused of conspiring to hack into the computers of six American entities. The companies identified as victims of the hacking are Westinghouse Electric; U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld; U.S. Steel; Allegheny Technologies; the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union; and Alcoa.

Here are the images of the PLA members released by the FBI on Monday.

Wang Dong (Courtesy of the FBI)

Gu Chunhui (Courtesy of the FBI)

Sun Kailiang (Courtesy of the FBI)

Huang Zhenyu (Courtesy of the FBI)

Wen Xinyu (Courtesy of the FBI)

"If you have any information concerning this person, please contact your local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate," the notices say.

You can read our full coverage of the cyber-espionage charges here.