Poland arrests Huawei employee over spying allegations

Erika Holt
January 12, 2019

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.

A high ranking Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was also arrested by Canadian authorities in December 2018, at the request of the United States authorities.

The Polish man was identified as Piotr D. And said to have been a former high-ranking intelligence officer until 2011 at the Internal Security Agency, Poland's domestic counterintelligence agency.

Along with the Chinese national, whose name has been reported as Weijinga W., the Polish counterintelligence service, the Internal Security Agency (ABW), arrested Polish national Piotr D., the ABW's own former employee, Polish broadcaster TVP reports.

Both of them will remain in custody for the next three months and could face up to 10 years in prison.

The news agency quotes Huawei as offering no comment, beyond saying that it is aware of the case and is monitoring the situation.

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"Both men carried out espionage activities against Poland". Huawei and Orange could not immediately be reached for comment. Local media identified the Chinese man as a Huawei director.

An official at the Chinese Embassy in Warsaw said China attaches "great importance to the detention" of the Chinese citizen in Poland and that Chinese envoys had met with Polish Foreign Ministry officials to urge them to arrange a consular visit "as soon as possible".

Orange Poland told The Associated Press on Friday that officials from Poland's Internal Security Agency searched the company's headquarters in Warsaw on Tuesday and that as part of operation "we handed over belongings of one of our employees". No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the claims. The company said it abides by applicable laws wherever it operates and expects employees to do the same. Orange told the AP it did not know if the suspicions against its employee were related to his work at Orange or elsewhere.

The Commission spokesperson did not want to respond on whether the European Union executive was concerned about the possibility of Polish or European Union nationals being arrested in China.

Telenor is now testing 5G networks with the use of Chinese equipment supplied by Huawei, but with Friday's arrests, pressure will only mount on the firm, who sought to substantiate their presence on the continent with the establishment of an European Union headquarters in Brussels in 2018. 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.

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.

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