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Poland arrests Huawei employee and high-ranking security official on spying accusations

12 January 2019
Poland arrests Huawei employee and high-ranking security official on spying accusations

Polish public TV channel TVP said security services had searched the local offices of Huawei and the offices of telecoms firm Orange Polska, where it has been reported the Polish national works.

The arrest comes on the back of a hard year for Huawei, which has seen the arrest of the daughter of the firm's founder in Canada and United States efforts to blacklist the company internationally over security concerns.

This has sparked fears Huawei could be asked by the Chinese government to incorporate "backdoors" into their equipment that would allow Beijing access, for spying or sabotage purposes.

Earlier, Poland's state television reported that one of the directors of the Polish division of China's telecom giant Huawei, as well as a former high-ranking employee of the Polish Internal Security Agency (ABW), were arrested on suspicion of spying for China.

If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison.

A Huawei representative said the company was looking into the matter and declined to comment further.

Huawei's relations with British authorities hit a low last month when a top official walked out of a meeting with the Chinese company over its perceived failure to fix security holes in its products, sources familiar with the talks told Reuters.

Huawei has come under intense scrutiny in recent months as countries including Australia, New Zealand and Japan have followed US moves against the company, citing security concerns.

The arrest might not have a big impact on broader trade tensions between China and the USA, but it shows that "there will always be competition and acrimony related to Chinese tech companies", Benner said.

Zaryn identified the Chinese businessman as Weijing W and the Polish suspect as Piotr D.

Two people were arrested in Poland over espionage charges, according to a report from a Polish news broadcaster.

Nonetheless, intelligence bods recommended banning the use of the kit, and official blocks are in place for state-funded projects in the US, Australia and New Zealand. Mr. Wang did not immediately respond to a request for comment via the social media site.

Some European governments and telecom companies are following the U.S. lead in questioning whether using Huawei for vital infrastructure for mobile networks could leave them exposed to snooping by the Chinese government.

China is highly concerned over the issue, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' press office said in a faxed response to questions. The company said it abides by applicable laws wherever it operates and expects employees to do the same.

Orange Polska spokesman Wojciech Jabczynski said "ABW officials carried out items belonging to one of our employees on Tuesday".

Orange said in a statement that the Polish security services had gathered material related to an employee, but it did not know if the investigation was linked to the employee's professional work. She is out on bail in Canada awaiting extradition proceedings.