Polish authorities have arrested a Huawei executive for allegedly spying on behalf of China, according to a new report.
The Chinese national’s arrest was confirmed by Poland’s counterintelligence service on Friday, CNN reported. He was arrested along with a Polish citizen, and authorities say the homes of both suspects were searched on Tuesday.
Polish state media identified the suspect, arrested on charges of espionage, as Huawei’s director of sales in Poland. The Chinese embassy in Poland named him as Weijing Wang.
A Polish court has ordered the suspects to be held for three months. Both of them pleaded not guilty. They could both face up to 10 years in prison if they are convicted.
China-based Huawei is the second largest smartphone maker in the world, but U.S. intelligence agencies and government officials view the company as a security risk due to the possibility of its devices being used for espionage.
Several U.S. government entities have already banned the sale of Huawei devices and U.S. officials have warned Americans not to buy them, either. The Chinese OEM has also been barred from supplying 5G equipment to Australia and New Zealand.
As such, Huawei has had a tough time gaining a foothold in the U.S. and other markets. Chinese state media claims that this is because the U.S. government is intervening to stifle competition with American companies.
Huawei said in a statement that it is “aware of the situation” and is looking into it. China’s embassy in Poland also stated that it is “highly concerned” about the incident — and is arranging a consular visit to protect the “rights and interests, safety and humanitarian treatment” of the Chinese national.
The arrest comes shortly after Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was detained in Canada at the behest of the U.S. authorities allege that she helped Huawei bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran.
While Meng has been released on bail, she is faced with a legal fight over extradition to the U.S. More than that, her arrest certainly hasn’t helped the already tense situation between the U.S. and China, who are seeking an end to their trade war.
In the wake of the Huawei CFO’s arrest, some Chinese businesses boycotted American-made products — including Apple iPhones. But a much worse backlash could come if Meng does end up being extradited to the U.S., experts say.