Poland spy arrest: China telecoms firm Huawei sacks employee

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Huawei signImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Huawei has repeatedly been accused of being a proxy for the Chinese government, a claim it denies

Chinese telecoms company Huawei has sacked an employee arrested in Poland on suspicion of spying.

In a statement, it said the man, named as Wang Weijing, acted on his own and brought the firm into disrepute.

A former member of the Polish intelligence service was also detained on spying charges.

Huawei is under increasing scrutiny, with the US and others expressing concern its technology could be used by China's security services to spy.

China and the company itself deny this.

Its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou - the daughter of its founder - was arrested in Canada last month and faces extradition to the US on charges of breaking Iran sanctions.

What do we know so far?

The two individuals were arrested on Tuesday following a lengthy investigation, a spokesman for the security services told the BBC.

According to a LinkedIn profile, Mr Wang was a sales director at the firm and worked as an attache at China's embassy in Poland from 2006-11.

Huawei's statement said his alleged activity had "no relation to the company".

"In accordance with the terms and conditions of Huawei's labour contract, we have made this decision because the incident has brought Huawei into disrepute," it added.

On Thursday, a Warsaw court agreed to prosecutors' requests to arrest the two men for three months. If found guilty of spying, they face up to 10 years in prison.

Image source, Reuters
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Huawei equipment is being used in fast 5G mobile networks around the world

TVP reported that Huawei's office in Poland had been searched by the ABW.

In a statement, Huawei said it "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."

Both men's homes had also been searched during the investigation.

Why are there concerns about Huawei?

Chinese tech giant Huawei is at the centre of several diplomatic rows, most spurred by concerns over security.

Under Chinese law, firms are compelled to "support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work".

Its media-shy founder, Ren Zhengfei, is also a former engineer in China's army and joined the Communist Party in 1978.

As a result, critics argue China may be using Huawei as a proxy to help hack attacks, eavesdrop on conversations or gain high-level access to sensitive networks.

New Zealand, Australia and the US have all barred the company from involvement in their national 5G networks.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Huawei founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei has come under international scrutiny for his ties to China's Communist Party

It has also become involved in the US-China trade dispute after the arrest last month of chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

Her arrest has led to a major diplomatic incident, and two Canadians - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor - have since been taken into custody in China on charges related to "national security".

Huawei has repeatedly denied allegations of secret ties to the Chinese government, and says it has won a quarter of all commercial 5G contracts around the world.