Sun, 31 May 2020

Polish security services arrest Chinese Huawei employee for spying

By Sheetal Sukhija, Buffalo News.Net
12 Jan 2019, 01:46 GMT+10

WARSAW, Poland - A Chinese employee of the telecoms equipment maker Huawei and a Polish national involved in cyber activities have been arrested in Poland over allegation of spying.

The Polish state television said in a report on Friday that Poland's Internal Security Agency had charged a Chinese manager at Huawei in Poland and one of its own former officers with espionage against Poland on behalf of China.

According to the State broadcaster, the two men were arrested on Tuesday after Polish security agents searched the offices of Huawei.

The report noted that the offices of Orange, which is Poland's leading communications provider, was also searched as part of investigation into the case.

The offices of Orange were searched since it is where the Polish individual arrested in the case, had recently worked.

Polish security agents reportedly seized documents and electronic data from these search operations.

TVP, the state broadcaster added in its report that the homes of both the men were also searched.

In a statement issued later on Friday, Maciej Wasik, deputy head of Poland's special service, said that the operation that resulted in the arrest of the two suspects had been underway for a long time.

He said that the operation had been planned with care and that "both carried out espionage activities against Poland."

Meanwhile, later in the day, the Polish state TV, which is considered to be close to the government, identified the Chinese man as Weijing W.

The report noted that the man was a director in Poland at Huawei. 

The individual reportedly goes by the Polish first name Stanislaw and had previously worked at the Chinese consulate.

Further, the State TV report identified the Pole as Piotr D., who was said to be a high-ranking employee at the Internal Security Agency until 2011.

At the time, he reportedly served as deputy director in the department of information security.

According to the TVP report, the men, who have refused to provide testimony in the case, could face up to 10 years in prison.

The report further pointed out that both the men have not pleaded guilty so far.

Subsequently, Huawei issued a statement from its Chinese headquarters and said that it was aware of the situation and was examining it.

The company said in its statement, "We have no comment for the time being. 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."

Meanwhile, Orange Polska issued a statement saying the security agency had gathered materials related to an employee, but refused to identify the individual. 

In its statement, the company added that it did not know if the investigation was linked to the employee's professional work, and that it would continue to cooperate with the authorities.

The arrests in Poland have taken place more than a month after Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer at Huawei, who is also the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada.

Wanzhou was arrested on December 1, in connection with U.S. accusations that the company had violated restriction on sales of American technology to Iran. 

Since then, geopolitical tensions over Huawei have intensified.

In the U.S., Huawei has been blocked since 2012, when a House Intelligence Committee report concluded that the company was a security risk and recommended that the government and private companies stop buying its network equipment.

Europe is the company's biggest foreign market and following the case involving Canada and the U.S., some European countries have begun shunning Huawei's network systems citing data security concerns.

Following the arrests on Friday, China's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it was "greatly concerned" by the reports, and urged Poland to handle the case "justly."

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