WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Poland has arrested a director at the Chinese tech giant Huawei and one of its own former cybersecurity experts and charged them with spying for China, authorities said on Friday.
The development comes as the United States (US) is exerting pressure on its allies not to use Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecommunications network equipment, over data security concerns.
The two men – one a Chinese citizen who was a former envoy in Poland before moving over to a senior position at Huawei and the other a Pole who held several top government cybersecurity positions – were arrested on Tuesday, according to Poland’s Internal Security Agency.
Polish security agents searched the Warsaw offices of Huawei and Orange, Poland’s leading communications provider, where the former Polish security expert recently worked, seizing documents and electronic data. The homes of both men, also in Warsaw, were also searched, according to agency spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn.
It’s the latest setback for Huawei in Europe, where the company has ambitious plans to roll out next-generation “5G” mobile networks, which it is a leader in developing.
The arrest is a fresh sign that a US dispute with China over its ban on the company is spilling over to Europe, Huawei’s biggest foreign market.
Some European governments and telecom companies are following the US lead in questioning whether using Huawei for vital infrastructure for mobile networks could leave them exposed to snooping by the Chinese government.
Maciej Wasik, deputy head of Poland’s Special Services agency, said the operation that resulted in the arrests of the two suspects had been underway for a long time.
He said “both carried out espionage activities against Poland.”