Huawei sacks employee arrested in Poland over alleged spying

Huawei employee arrested in Poland over alleged spying

A Huawei employee arrested by Polish security services - together with a Polish security official - over allegations of spying has been fired by the Chinese vendor.

Wang Weijing, who has worked for Huawei’s Polish unit since 2011, has been detained, but not charged. Prior to working at Huawei, Wang was an attaché to the Chinese General Consul in Gdansk. 

Polish Internal Security Agency (ISA) spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn stated: “This matter has to do with [Wang's] actions, it doesn’t have anything to do with the company he works for.” Zaryn confirmed that the ISA apprehended the two men on 8th January and stated that both had heard the charges against them and would be held for three months.

Huawei stated that Wang's actions "have no relation to the company" and confirmed that it has taken the decision to fire him as "the incident has brought Huawei into disrepute." A statement issued by the vendor said: “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.” The Chinese foreign ministry said it was “greatly concerned” by the allegations of espionage and called for the case to be dealt with “justly”.

The identity of the Polish man has not been confirmed, according to Polish public TV channel TVP, although he reportedly is a former ISA officer currently employed by telecoms company Orange Polska. His offices have been searched by Polish security services, along with the Polish offices of Huawei. Orange Polska stated that it was unaware if the investigation related to the employee’s professional capacity, and that it would continue to cooperate with authorities.

The arrests come at a time when security fears over Huawei in the West are heightened. The US has long barred the use of Huawei products, claiming that the Chinese vendor has close ties to the country’s government and inferring that its telecoms equipment could offer Beijing a “back door” for espionage purposes. No evidence supporting these claims has been made public. Although Huawei has repeatedly insisted that these concerns are baseless, several Western countries have followed the USA’s lead and placed restrictions on Huawei products.

With Australia, New Zealand and Japan all moving to block the use of Huawei’s equipment, security concerns over the vendor are reaching a fever pitch. International fears were sparked by the Chinese National Intelligence Law enshrined in 2017, which stipulates that Chinese “organisations and citizens shall, in accordance with the law, support, cooperate with, and collaborate in national intelligence work.”

Theoretically, this could mean that Huawei would be obliged to honour requests by the Chinese government to install “backdoors” into their technology that could provide Beijing with insight for the purposes of espionage or sabotage. Additionally, government access to Huawei’s technology could enable Chinese intelligence to develop its own backdoors.

The arrests are the latest issue facing Huawei following the December arrest of its CFO. Meng Wangzhou was detained by Canadian authorities on the behest of US authorities investigation allegations of trade sanction violations.