Huawei fires employee arrested on espionage charges in Poland

14 Jan 2019

Huawei logo. Image: alexynovikov/Depositphotos

The arrest of a Huawei staff member on suspicion of espionage in Poland is the latest controversy to hit the firm.

The Polish government may be looking to ban the use of Huawei products by public bodies, according to a report in Reuters. A senior government official made the claim following the arrest of a Chinese Huawei representative in the country last week.

A collaborative effort needed

Joachim Brudzinski, internal affairs minister of the Polish government, said that the EU and NATO should work together to decide whether the Chinese firm should be excluded from their markets following the arrest of the employee as well as a former Polish security official on 11 January.

Huawei moved swiftly to dismiss the staff member, Wang Weijing, who Bloomberg reports was responsible for sales to public sector clients. The company stated the executive’s actions had brought it “into disrepute”. Huawei has consistently shot down any charges of espionage. It 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.”

A source told Reuters that allegations had stemmed from individual actions and were not directly linked to Huawei as a business. Poland is still considering taking some form of action against the company.

Poland may also look at legislation in a more general sense to limit the availability of products made by any company it deems a threat to security, not just Huawei.

A tumultuous few months for Huawei

It has been a troubled period for the Chinese giant. Senior executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested following a US request in Canada last year, but was released on bail on 11 December. She is scheduled to reappear in court on 6 February and is living in Vancouver under legally established restrictions.

Meng was arrested as part of an investigation into the alleged sale of equipment to Iran, despite US sanctions on exports to the country. The US now has to present the Canadian courts with evidence of sanctions violations by the company and Meng.

In August of last year, US president Donald Trump signed a bill barring the US government from using Huawei equipment and is also said to be considering a similar ruling for companies in the US. In Australia, both Huawei and ZTE were banned from its commercial 5G plans last year, while UK telecoms giant BT is said to be moving away from using the company’s equipment in its infrastructure.

Many analysts say further sanctions against the Chinese firms must be balanced with the potential negative impact this could have on the development of 5G.

Huawei logo. Image: alexynovikov/Depositphotos

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects