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.
Maciej Wasik, deputy head of Poland's special services, said that the Chinese suspect was a businessman working for a major electronics corporation and the Pole was "known in circles associated with cyberbusiness affairs".
In mid-August, Washington enacted legislation banning United States government agencies from using Huawei products amid concerns that the company's mobile phones "pose an unacceptable risk to the [Pentagon's] personnel, information and mission".
It was also reported that both detainees pleaded not guilty and refused to give explanations regarding the case. If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison each.
The development comes as a USA dispute with China over a ban on Huawei is spilling over to Europe, the company's biggest foreign market, where some countries are also starting to shun its network systems over data security concerns. Also going by the Polish first name Stanislaw, the Chinese man had previously worked at the Chinese consulate.
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Poland's Internal Security Agency accuses Huawei's sales director in Poland of spying on behalf of China, arresting the Chinese citizen along with one other man.
Huawei is a leader in the development of next-generation "5G" mobile networks and a key player in building them in Europe. "We have no comment for the time being", Huawei said in a statement. Orange told the AP it did not know if the suspicions against its employee were related to his work at Orange.
Huawei issued a statement from its Chinese headquarters saying it was aware of the situation in Poland and was looking into it.
In December, Canadian authorities arrested a top Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, at the behest of USA authorities as part of an investigation into alleged violations of US trade sanctions, raising tensions with China at a time when Washington and Beijing are engaged in a broader trade war.
"We have no comment for the time being".
Huawei has found itself in the centre of a trade war between the U.S. and China.