An executive at the Chinese tech giant Huawei was arrested in Poland on suspicion of spying on behalf of the Chinese government, according to multiple reports.
This is the second high-profile arrest of an employee at Huawei in two months. The company's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was detained in Canada in December and faces charges that she violated US trade sanctions.
But Poland's spying allegations against a Huawei employee add fuel to cybersecurity concerns from the US and other Western countries. US lawmakers have raised concern that Huawei and other Chinese tech giants have ties to the Chinese government, something these companies have consistently denied. Officials claim that Chinese smartphones and telecommunications equipment could be used for spying and to gain access to sensitive information. And, as The Verge points out, China's National Intelligence law states that companies in the country are required to "support, cooperate with, and collaborate in national intelligence work."
However, Polish authorities told Reuters the spying allegations are related to the actions of the individual Huawei employee, and not necessarily linked directly to the company itself.
Sources told The Wall Street Journal that the arrested Huawei employee is a sales director in Poland, identified as Weijing Wang. Wang, along with a Polish citizen, were reportedly charged with espionage and have plead not guilty. The men could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Polish authorities recently searched Wang's home, as well as Huawei's Polish offices, in connection with his arrest, Reuters reports.
Huawei told Reuters it was aware of the situation, but had no immediate comment. The Chinese government said in a statement to the outlet it was "greatly concerned" by the arrest, and told Poland to handle the case "justly."
Chinese authorities have been critical of how last month's arrest of Meng, Huawei's CFO, was handled. China warned of "grave consequences" following the initial arrest, and detained two Canadian citizens on Chinese soil soon after the threat. Most recently, a Chinese official accused Canada of "Western egotism and white supremacy" over the detention.
Meng, 46, is not only Huawei's CFO, but is also the daughter of Huawei's founder, Ren Zhengfei, one of the richest men in China. The high-profile arrest has threatened relations between US and China amidst a contentious trade war.
Meng was released last month on bail of more than $7 million. She was arrested on suspicion of hiding her company's ties to Skycom, a small telecoms subsidiary that conducted business dealings in Iran in violation of US trade sanctions.
Meng is scheduled to appear back in court in early February, and may still be extradited to the US. Until then, she's under strict bail conditions, which include electric monitoring and an around-the-clock security detail.
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