Polish authorities arrested a Huawei executive on suspicions of espionage

More trouble.
More trouble.
Image: Reuters/Aly Song
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The Polish intelligence agency this week arrested an executive from the Chinese technology company Huawei, along with a former officer of said agency, on suspicions of espionage for China, Polish media report. The men are Chinese and Polish, respectively.

Counterintelligence officers arrested the two men on Tuesday (Jan. 8) and seized documents and data at Huawei and Polish telecom giant Orange, where the Polish man had recently worked, according to the state-run news agency TVP Info, which first reported the news (link in Polish).

Huawei was not immediately available for comment. Orange told Reuters that it had no knowledge of whether the agency’s inquiry into their employee had anything to do with his work at the company

The two men, who reportedly deny accusations of spying, can face up to 10 years in prison, and will spend at least three months in jail. The Polish man, identified as Piotr D. in accordance with Polish law, was an officer of the Internal Security Agency (Agencja Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego, ABW) until 2011, where he led a group of experts tasked with cybersecurity and monitoring government computers. He left amid a corruption scandal involving government IT contracts, but was never charged, Polish media report.

According to the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Piotr D. had access to an internal system that facilitates sending secret messages to the highest Polish authorities (link in Polish).

Weijing W., the Chinese man, used to work at the Chinese consulate in Gdansk, Poland. He’d been at Huawei since 2011, and in 2017 became a director at Huawei Poland, leading the company’s public sector sales.

Huawei is involved in building telecoms infrastructure in Poland, supplying equipment for two big carriers, Orange and T-Mobile, to test 5G networks in the country, Gazeta Wyborcza wrote.

This is the second arrest of a Chinese Huawei executive abroad in recent months, after chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada in December. The US is trying to extradite her, reportedly building a case against her around two front companies in Iran and Syria.

Polish media are raising concerns that Polish citizens could get arrested in China, after 13 Canadian citizens were detained in the country as retaliation for Wanzhou.