A Huawei Employee Was Arrested in Poland On Spying Charges

The employee was let go for bringing the company into "disrepute".
Monday 14 January 2019
Huawei sells more phones than Apple. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP

The Huawei plot thickens. A Huawei executive was recently arrested in Poland on charges of spying for China and was subsequently been fired by the Chinese tech company.

Poland’s counterintelligence service confirmed on Friday that a Chinese citizen suspected of spying had been arrested. Polish state media identified the suspect as Huawei’s sales director in the country, Wang Weijing.

In a statement Saturday, Huawei said it had fired Wang for bringing the company into “disrepute.” Though given the recent controversy around Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s arrest, Huawei’s image is getting murkier and murkier. Meng is the daughter of Huawei’s founder and was arrested in Canada in December. She has been released on bail, but faces a lengthy legal fight over extradition to the United States. The US government alleges that Meng helped the company dodge sanctions on Iran. Huawei has repeatedly said it’s unaware of any wrongdoing by Meng.

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Protestors appeal for Meng Wanzhou’s release outside the courts in Vancouver. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP

It’s a complicated issue Huawei is viewed by US government officials as a national security risk. It’s not just the States though; other countries have concerns too, with Australia and New Zealand preventing the Chinese tech giant from supplying next-generation 5G equipment to its shores.

Stanislaw Zaryn, a spokesman for Polish counterintelligence, said in a statement to the country’s official press agency that the Chinese citizen had been arrested along with a Polish citizen. Do the Chinese have a Polish in their pocket?

The homes of the suspects were searched on Tuesday, the statement said. A court has ordered the pair to be held for three months, and they face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Both have pleaded not guilty, according to Polish state broadcaster TVP.

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Huawei’s 5G park at its headquarters in Shenzhen. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP

The Chinese company in its statement said that Wang’s “alleged actions have no relation to the company. Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries where it operates, and we require every employee to abide by the laws and regulations in the countries where they are based,” it said.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy to Poland said the country was “highly concerned about this incident.” Poland had been asked to arrange a consular visit “as soon as possible” and to protect the “rights and interests, safety and humanitarian treatment of the person involved,” the spokesperson added.

Meng’s arrest has stoked tensions between the United States and China, which have been trying to negotiate an end to their bruising trade war. It has already fueled a nationalist backlash against American products from some Chinese businesses. If Meng is extradited to the United States, experts warn US businesses in China could face retaliation.

Source: Charles Riley, Antonia Mortensen/CNN International

Related: How Was the US Able to Arrest Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou?