Two Huawei employees arrested in Poland over spying allegations

Geneva Stokes
January 12, 2019

Polish security services have charged a Chinese manager at tech giant Huawei in Poland and a Polish former intelligence officer with espionage against the country on behest of China.

Previous year it held talks with Poland's government about setting up a science-and-technology center near Warsaw, and is working local units of French mobile operator Orange SA and Germany's Deutsche Telekom to set up fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless networks.

One of them is Polish while the other one is Chinese.

Chinese authorities have been critical of how last month's arrest of Meng, Huawei's CFO, was handled.

Former Polish intelligence agent, identified as Piotr D by state television network TVP, was also arrested in connection with the charges of spying on behalf of the People's Republic of China.

In an emailed statement sent earlier today, a Huawei spokesperson told us: "Huawei is aware of the situation, and we are looking into it".

The Wall Street Journal reports that a Huawei executive has been arrested in Poland after being discovered as a spy for the Chinese government. They will remain in custody for three months.

Federal Bureau of Investigation director Chris Wray said in February that they were concerned about allowing a company "that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks".

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"On January 8, they were detained, the Internal Security Agency carried out procedural acts, and searches were carried out in many places related to their activities", deputy minister of the special services coordinator Maciej Wąsik told Polsat News.

In addition to this, Huawei have come under fire from authorities in Norway, Germany, the USA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, with several countries outright banning the use of their devices or equipment used in 5G mobile networks.

Internal Security Agency officers have searched the headquarters of Huawei's Polish branch and the offices of the Orange telecommunications corporation, where the Polish suspect worked after leaving the agency, TVP Info said.

"One thing is clear: this is another nail in the coffin of Huawei's European ambitions", said Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Public Policy Institute, a think tank.

Huawei is also mired in a United States case alleging violations of trade sanctions.

Norway's comments come at a time in the country is seeking to stamp out vulnerabilities in its telecoms networks.

Last month, Huawei's CFO Wang Mei Zhou was arrested in Vancouver Canada for allegedly allowing Huawei to violate a U.S. sanction against Iran.

China is highly concerned over the issue, the press office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Orange Polska's spokesman Wojciech Jabczynski declined to comment on Huawei cooperation while confirming that the Warsaw-based company handed over an employee's belongings to the Polish authorities on Tuesday. US prosecutors have accused her of misleading banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating USA sanctions. As well as producing smartphones, the Chinese corporation develops mobile network infrastructure used in many countries, which some nations see as a potential security risk.

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