Poland arrests Chinese businessman and Pole on espionage allegations

by Garry Watts January 12, 2019, 0:56
Poland arrests Chinese businessman and Pole on espionage allegations

Orange, a leading telecommunications company in Poland, says it's cooperating with the Polish security services who say a Polish employee at the company and a Chinese manager for tech giant Huawei have been accused of spying on Poland for China.

In December, Canadian authorities arrested a top Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, at the behest of US authorities as part of an investigation into alleged violations of USA trade sanctions, raising tensions with China at a time when Washington and Beijing are engaged in a broader trade war.

The Polish spy agency and Poland's state television, which is closely tied to the Polish government, reported the arrests and the searches at both Huawei and Orange.

Polish authorities arrested and charged a Huawei executive and a former Polish government official with espionage, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. They'll both remain in custody for at least three months.

A Huawei representative said the company was looking into the matter and declined to comment further. The US has effectively blocked Huawei from competing in these markets and in telecom equipment for government offices, so they haven't achieved the same toehold here.

Huawei didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

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The West's security concerns surrounding Huawei, and fellow Chinese telecom equipment firm ZTE Corp, centre around China's National Intelligence Law.

A Chinese businessman and a Pole have been arrested on suspicion of espionage in Poland. Orange told the AP it did not know if the suspicions against its employee were related to his work at Orange or elsewhere.

The Chinese government retaliated against the arrest by detaining Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, about a month ago, claiming he's a national security risk.

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

Even without concrete evidence, many countries around the world are banning Huawei from working on their national 5G grid, with many more considering the same move.

"It does point at the sort of connections that may exist between the state intelligence enterprise and private Chinese companies", he said.

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