Huawei fires sales man­ager who Poland charged with spy­ing

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Business -

Chi­nese tech com­pany Huawei on Satur­day an­nounced it has fired a sales di­rec­tor who was ar­rested in Poland and charged with spy­ing for China, say­ing he has brought the firm’s rep­u­ta­tion “into dis­re­pute.”

The com­pany said it has “de­cided to ter­mi­nate the em­ploy­ment of Mr. Wang Wei­jing, who was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of break­ing Pol­ish law.”

Pol­ish au­thor­i­ties said Fri­day they have ar­rested Wang, a Chi­nese cit­i­zen and for­mer diplo­mat, along with a Pol­ish cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­pert who had held sev­eral top gov­ern­ment cy­ber­se­cu­rity jobs and also worked at the tele­com com­pany Or­ange.

Huawei said Wang’s ac­tions “have no re­la­tion to the com­pany” and that he was fired be­cause “the in­ci­dent in ques­tion has brought Huawei into dis­re­pute.”

The ar­rest rekin­dled ten­sions be­tween China and the West over cy­ber­se­cu­rity con­cerns sur­round­ing Huawei. It’s the world’s big­gest maker of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment but has been banned in the U.S. since 2012 over fears it’s a se­cu­rity risk. Ear­lier this week, Pol­ish se­cu­rity agents searched the War­saw of­fices of Huawei and Or­ange, Poland’s lead­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions provider, seiz­ing doc­u­ments and elec­tronic data. The homes of both men, also in War­saw, were


also searched, ac­cord­ing to In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity Agency spokesman Stanis­law Zaryn.

Huawei had am­bi­tious plans in Europe to roll out next-gen­er­a­tion “5G” mo­bile net­works. But some European gov­ern­ments and tele­com com­pa­nies are fol­low­ing the U.S. lead in ques­tion­ing whether us­ing Huawei for vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture for mo­bile net­works could leave them ex­posed to snoop­ing by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.

“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.

Poland is Huawei’s head­quar­ters for Cen­tral and East­ern Europe and the Nordic re­gion.

Ma­ciej Wasik, deputy head of Poland’s Spe­cial Ser­vices agency, said the op­er­a­tion that re­sulted in the ar­rests had been un­der­way for a long time. He said “both car­ried out es­pi­onage ac­tiv­i­ties against Poland.”

Zaryn told The As­so­ci­ated Press that prose­cu­tors have charged the two men with es­pi­onage, but agents are con­tin­u­ing to col­lect ev­i­dence and in­ter­view wit­nesses. Fur­ther in­dict­ments are ex­pected, he said.

Pol­ish state tele­vi­sion TVP re­ported that the men have pro­claimed their in­no­cence, but Zaryn could not con­firm that. If con­victed, they could face up to 10 years in prison each. TVP iden­ti­fied the ar­rested Chi­nese man as Wei­jing W., say­ing he was a sales di­rec­tor in Poland at Huawei. It said he also went by the Pol­ish first name of Stanis­law and had pre­vi­ously worked at the Chi­nese con­sulate in Gdansk.

A LinkedIn pro­file for a man named Stanis­law Wang ap­pears to match de­tails de­scribed by Pol­ish tele­vi­sion.

Wang’s re­sume said he worked at China’s Gen­eral Con­sulate in Gdansk from 2006-2011 and at Huawei En­ter­prise Poland since 2011, where he was first di­rec­tor of pub­lic af­fairs and since 2017 the “sales di­rec­tor of pub­lic sec­tor.” The re­sume said he re­ceived a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in 2004 from the Bei­jing Univer­sity of For­eign Stud­ies. State TV iden­ti­fied the Pol­ish man as Piotr D., and said he was a high-rank­ing em­ployee at the In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity Agency, where he served as deputy di­rec­tor in the depart­ment of in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity, un­til 2011.

The Pol­ish state news agency, PAP, said the man had also held top cy­ber­se­cu­rity po­si­tions at the In­te­rior Min­istry and the Of­fice of Elec­tronic Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, a reg­u­la­tory body. It said, while at the In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity Agency, he was in­volved in build­ing a mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem for top Pol­ish of­fi­cials, and he was fired in 2011 amid a cor­rup­tion scan­dal.

Geopo­lit­i­cal ten­sions over Huawei have in­ten­si­fied since Canada ar­rested a top ex­ec­u­tive last month at the re­quest of U.S. au­thor­i­ties. Last year Aus­tralia, New Zealand and Ja­pan in­sti­tuted their own bans against us­ing Huawei.

An of­fi­cial at the Chi­nese Em­bassy in War­saw said Chi­nese en­voys had urged Pol­ish For­eign Min­istry of­fi­cials to ar­range a con­sular visit with Wang “as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Or­ange Poland told the AP on Fri­day it was co­op­er­at­ing with Pol­ish se­cu­rity ser­vices in the case and had “handed over be­long­ings of one of our em­ploy­ees” in Tues­day’s search of its of­fices. Or­ange told the AP it did not know if the sus­pi­cions against its em­ployee were re­lated to his work at Or­ange or his pre­vi­ous jobs.

Huawei’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, Meng Wanzhou, was ar­rested Dec. 1 in Canada in con­nec­tion with U.S. ac­cu­sa­tions that the com­pany vi­o­lated re­stric­tions on sales of Amer­i­can tech­nol­ogy to Iran.

The United States wants Meng ex­tra­dited to face charges that she mis­led banks about the com­pany’s busi­ness deal­ings in Iran. She is out on bail in Canada await­ing ex­tra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings. On Dec. 10, China de­tained for­mer Cana­dian diplo­mat Michael Kovrig and Cana­dian en­tre­pre­neur Michael Spa­vor on vague na­tional se­cu­rity al­le­ga­tions in ap­par­ent re­tal­i­a­tion for Meng’s ar­rest.

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