US accuses Huawei of stealing trade secrets and helping Iran spy on protesters in latest indictment


Posted

February 14, 2020 20:45:39

US prosecutors have accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and helping Iran track protesters in its latest indictment against the Chinese company, escalating the US battle with the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker.

Key points:

  • Huawei has been accused of installing surveillance equipment in Iran that was used to identify protesters during anti-government demonstrations
  • The US has been waging a campaign against Huawei, which it has warned could spy on customers for Beijing
  • Last year the company was charged with bank and wire fraud, violating sanctions against Iran and obstructing justice

In the indictment, which supersedes one unsealed last year in federal court in New York, Huawei Technologies was charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from six US technology companies and to violate a racketeering law typically used to combat organised crime.

It also contains new allegations about the company’s involvement in countries subject to sanctions.

Among other accusations, it says Huawei installed surveillance equipment in Iran that was used to monitor, identify, and detain protesters during the 2009 anti-government demonstrations in Tehran.

The United States has been waging a campaign against Huawei, which it has warned could spy on customers for Beijing.

Washington placed the company on a trade blacklist last year, citing national security concerns.

The indictment is “part of an attempt to irrevocably damage Huawei’s reputation and its business for reasons related to competition rather than law enforcement”, the company said in a statement.

It called the racketeering accusation “a contrived repackaging of a handful of civil allegations that are almost 20 years old”.

Huawei pleaded not guilty to the earlier indictment unsealed against the company in January 2019, which charged it with bank and wire fraud, violating sanctions against Iran and obstructing justice.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang urged the United States to immediately stop suppressing Chinese companies without reason.

Such acts seriously damage the United States’ credibility and image, he said.

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in December 2018 in Canada on charges in that indictment, causing an uproar in China and a chill in Canadian-Chinese relations.

She has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition.

There are no new charges against Ms Meng in the superseding indictment.

New charges outline alleged trade secret theft

The new trade secret theft charges relate to internet router source code, cellular antenna technology, and robotics.

For example, beginning in 2000, Huawei and its subsidiary Futurewei Technologies are accused of misappropriating operating system source code for internet routers, commands used to communicate with the routers, and operating system manuals, from a company in Northern California.

Huawei then sold their routers in the United States as lower-cost versions of the US company’s products, the indictment says.

Although the US company is not identified, Cisco Systems sued Huawei in Texas in 2003 over copyright infringement related to its routers.

Huawei is also accused of recruiting employees from other companies, making efforts to get intellectual property from those companies, and using professors at research institutions to obtain technology.

The US Commerce Department in May put Huawei on a trade blacklist that restricted US suppliers from selling parts and components to the company.

Reuters

Topics:

science-and-technology,

business-economics-and-finance,

law-crime-and-justice,

courts-and-trials,

united-states,

china,

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