WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland has arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a Polish national involved in cyber business on allegations of spying, Polish media reported on Friday, deepening the controversy over Western criticism of the Chinese telecoms equipment maker.
U.S. intelligence agencies allege Huawei Technologies Cos Ltd [HWT.UL] is linked to China’s government and that its equipment could contain “backdoors” for use by government spies.
No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the claims. But the criticism has led several Western countries and companies to look into whether they should allow Huawei’s equipment to be used in their telecoms networks.
Polish public TV channel TVP said security services had also searched the local offices of Huawei; the offices of telecoms firm Orange Polska (OPL.WA) (ORAN.PA), where it said the Polish national works; and Poland’s Office of Electronic Communications, the country’s telecoms regulator.
“We are aware of the situation, and we are looking into it. We have no comment for the time being,” Huawei said in a statement.
“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.
Orange Polska said in a statement the security agency had on Tuesday gathered materials related to an employee, whom it did not identify. The company added it did not know if the investigation was linked to the employee’s professional work, and that it would continue to cooperate with the authorities.
Poland’s Office of Electronic Communications was not immediately available to comment.
In December, Canadian authorities arrested a top Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, at the behest of U.S. authorities as part of an investigation into alleged violations of U.S. trade sanctions, raising tensions with China at a time when Washington and Beijing are engaged in a broader trade war.
“The Chinese national is a businessman working in a major electronics company … the Pole is a person known in circles associated with cyber business,” Maciej Wasik, the deputy head of Poland’s special services, told state news agency PAP.
The arrested pair will be held for three months, PAP reported, citing the spokesperson for Poland’s head of special services.
TVP said the Polish national was a former agent of the internal security agency. The agency did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Additional reporting by Jack Stubbs in London; Editing by Mark Potter