Polish authorities charged a Chinese citizen Friday — who’s worked for smartphone giant Huawei Technologies — with high-level espionage that could send him to prison for 10 years.
State-owned Telewizja Polska reported Poland counterintelligence officers from the Internal Security Agency had arrested the citizen, who was sales director of Huawei’s Poland office. Officials said the person charged is a graduate of one of China’s top intelligence schools and a former employee of Beijing’s consulate in Gdansk.
The suspect and a former Polish official were both charged with espionage against the republic, to which they have both pleaded not guilty. The Polish suspect was the former deputy head of Warsaw’s counterintelligence’s IT security department.
The arrests come as Western countries, including the United States, increase surveillance of Huawei, which recently surpassed Apple as the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer.
Friday’s was the second high-profile arrest of a Huawei official in the past two months. Canadian officials detained Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, in December at the request of the United States. He was accused of trying to get around Iranian trade sanctions.
U.S. politicians have expressed concern over the growth of Huawei because of the company’s potential to spy for Beijing through its electronics, disable communications or conduct another kind of cyberattack.
Huawei has said it’s employee-owned and has never conducted espionage or sabotage on behalf of China’s government. The telecom giant said doing so would damage its trust as a global telecommunications leader.