Poland has arrested a Chinese businessman working for the Huawei technology company on suspicion of espionage, authorities in Warsaw said today. Security services searched their homes and the offices of Huawei and Orange Polska, the Polish business of French mobile operator Orange SA.
Reports have shown that the Chinese technology giant circumvented sanctions imposed on Iran and North Korea by providing them with telecommunications equipment that can be used to spy on their populations, otherwise known as "dual use technologies".
Last spring, Huawei surpassed Samsung to become Poland's top smartphone supplier with more than a third of the market, as China.org reported.
Huawei is a Chinese telecommunications company that is viewed by U.S. government officials as a national security risk.
A Huawei representative said the company was looking into the matter and declined to comment further.
United States intelligence agencies allege Huawei Technologies has links to the Chinese government and that its equipment may have "backdoors" for use by government spies.
Past year the company also said it had signed memorandums of understanding for 5G equipment with 45 operators in Asia, Europe and North America.
The detainees were charged with Article 130 paragraph 1 of espionage against the Republic of Poland.
The Chinese suspect was named by TVP Info only as "Weijing W".
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If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison.
The Polish spy agency and Poland's state television, which is closely tied to the Polish government, reported the arrests and the searches at both Huawei and Orange. Other countries have concerns too: It has been prevented from supplying next-generation 5G equipment to Australia and New Zealand.
While one was identified as the Huawei employee, the other was described as a Polish citizen and former security official.
"One thing is clear: this is another nail in the coffin of Huawei's European ambitions", said Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Public Policy Institute, a think tank.
Norway's comments come at a time in the country is seeking to stamp out vulnerabilities in its telecoms networks.
China is highly concerned over the issue, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' press office said in a faxed response to questions.
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. "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", it added.