Chinese employee of Huawei has been arrested in Poland on allegations of spying in the latest security scandal to plague China’s biggest and most notorious phone maker.
The employee, identified as Weijing W., was arrested along with a Polish man, Piotr D., reported to be a former employee of Poland’s security services who is now working for mobile provider Orange Polska. On Thursday, a Warsaw court agreed to detain the two men for three months. If they are found guilty, they face up to 10 years in prison.
While the details of their alleged espionage have not yet been made public, a spokesman for Poland’s security services has told Reuters that the allegations are related to individual actions, not directly related to Huawei.
In response to the arrests, China’s foreign ministry has said that it is “highly concerned,” Huawei has insisted that it “complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries where it operates,” and Global Times editor Hu Xijin had this to say:
Anything in Poland that is worthy of stealing for Huawei? Polish national security department flatters itself. Is it something to be ashamed of if one country doesn't arrest a Chinese spy? https://t.co/6okXqh7rCL
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) January 11, 2019
The offices of both Huawei and Orange Polska have been searched by Poland’s Internal Security Agency. Last year, Huawei helped Orange Polska to roll out its next-generation 5G mobile networks in the country.
Huawei recently surpassed Apple to become the world’s second-biggest smartphone maker behind only Samsung. However, the company has faced intense scrutiny in a number of foreign countries, accused of being a threat to national security because of its alleged close connections with the leadership in Beijing.
Arguing that Huawei technology could be used to spy on its citizens, New Zealand, Australia, and the US have all banned the company from providing equipment for their national 5G networks. UK telecoms company BT has said that it will not work with Huawei in creating its own next-gen wireless network. Norway is reported to be mulling doing the same.
Meanwhile, Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou — who is also the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei — was arrested last month in Canada at the request of authorities in the US where she faces charges of violating Iran sanctions.
Meng’s arrest infuriated China which warned that Canada will face “serious consequences” if she was not quickly released. One week later, two Canadian nationals were detained in China on suspicion of “engaging in activities harming China’s national security,” igniting considerable anxiety among the Canadian and American business and NGO community in China.
Now it’s Polish expats’ turn to worry.