Written by Jeff Stone
Poland’s internal security agency has arrested an employee of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and a former agent of Poland’s security services, an official announced Friday.
The Huawei employee, identified only as Weijing W., worked as the head of the company’s sales in Poland. The former Polish agent, Piotr D., works for the French telecommunications company Orange, according to the New York Times. Both suspects “carried out espionage activities against Poland,” said Maciej Wasik, deputy head of Poland’s special services.
Charges against each man have not been made public, though both suspects have pleaded not guilty and refused to answer questions, according to TYP, Poland’s state media outlet. The arrests came amid ongoing efforts by the U.S. and its allies to limit the use of technology manufactured by firms with ties to Beijing over espionage concerns. Canadian police last month arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of U.S. authorities, who allege Meng violated U.S. sanctions.
Lawmakers and intelligence officials in the U.S. and elsewhere have maintained over the last year that Beijing can exploit Huawei and Shenzen-based ZTE’s market reach to conduct espionage. Huawei has sought to help construct 5G mobile networks, the next generation of cellular communication technology, in Europe and Australia.
Polish police raided the homes and offices of the two suspects on Tuesday, then waited a standard two days before obtaining arrest warrants, according to the Times. Both men will be detained for three months while officials conduct their investigation.
Little information was immediately available about both suspects.
Weijing W. started working for Huawei in 2011 after graduating from Beijing Foreign Studies University with a degree in Polish studies, according to Polish media. He also worked at the Chinese Consulate in Gdansk, Poland, the Times noted.
The Polish suspect, Piotr D., worked for Poland’s domestic security service before joining Orange. The man was “known in circles associated with cyber-business affairs,” according to Wasik. As an agent, the man had “access to key information” such as “the internal government system that allows people to communicate secret information to the most important people in the country,” Wasik said.
A Huawei spokesman told the Times the firm had no comment on the specific case but that it “complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries where it operates.” An Orange representative confirmed police had visited its office, and that the suspect’s belongings had been seized.