Chinese Huawei employee, Polish former intel officer, arrested in Poland for espionage

Polish security services have charged a Chinese manager at tech giant Huawei in Poland and a Polish former intelligence officer with espionage against the country on behest of China.

The two men were arrested on Tuesday, according to Polish state television TVP. Polish security agents searched both the offices of Huawei and Orange, seizing documents and electronic data. The homes of the men were also searched.

The arrests are the latest setback for the Chinese technology company which is embroiled in a dispute with the U.S. over a ban on their devices, as well as a diplomatic row with Canada over the arrest of their chief financial officer.

The Chinese man was identified as Weijing W. and reportedly worked as a director in Poland at Huawei. The man, who went by the Polish first name Stanislaw, also worked at the Chinese consulate in the past.

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.

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He worked at Orange, a company that worked with Huawei to roll out next-generation 5G mobile networks in Poland, the BBC reported.

The two have not pleaded guilty and are refusing to provide testimony in the case, the state broadcaster said.

Maciej Wasik, deputy head of Poland’s special service, said the two arrested men “carried out espionage activities against Poland” and the operation to arrest them was underway for a long time. If convicted, the men could face up to 10 years in prison.

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Huawei said in a statement from its Chinese headquarters that they are looking into the situation in Poland.

“We have no comment for the time being. 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 statement said.

"We have no comment for the time being. 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."

— Huawei

The arrests came amid the U.S. dispute with China over a ban on Huawei devices and accusations that the company used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada last month at the request of the U.S. government. She was granted bail but remains in Vancouver under 24-hour surveillance. The U.S. must submit an extradition hearing by the end of January.

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. He remains in China’s custody.

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The U.S. also pressured European countries to cut ties with the Chinese telecom company amid links to the Chinese government and data security concerns.

Some European countries have followed the U.S. and began looking into whether using Huawei’s technology could expose the country to China.

Huawei has been blocked in the U.S. since 2012 after the House Intelligence Committee report found that using the company’s technology could pose a security risk.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.