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The trial of a former Huawei director accused of spying for China began in Poland

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Trail Of Huawei director Weijing Wang accused of spying for China began in Poland

The espionage trial against a former agent of the Polish security services and the Chinese national who was Huawei’s sales director in Poland began on Tuesday behind closed doors in Warsaw amid great anticipation.

The defendants, the Chinese Weijing Wang and the Polish Piotr Durbajlo , were arrested in January 2019 in Poland, accused of working for the Chinese government and face up to three years in prison on espionage charges.

The men were detained amid the geopolitical battle between the United States and China over technology and business supremacy. The administration of former US President Donald Trump pressured European allies to boycott Huawei’s next-generation mobile phone network equipment over concerns that it could be used by Beijing to facilitate cyber espionage or digital sabotage.

At the start of the trial held in the Polish capital on Tuesday, both defendants pleaded not guilty. At the beginning of the session, a prosecutor requested that the trial be held in secret due to the classified nature of some of the evidence.

Defense attorneys, however, objected, claiming that the nature of the charges requires that the process be transparent. Both Wang, who is fluent in Polish, and Durbajlo said they wanted an open trial. However, after a brief recess, the three judges announced that the process would be held behind closed doors, alleging state interests, and the journalists were asked to leave.

Durbajlo’s lawyer, Bartlomiej Jankowski , told the press that he will file a complaint against the Polish state with the European Court of Human Rights.

Wang and Durbajlo were detained by Polish authorities in January 2019 and accused of spying for the Chinese regime under the excuse of seeking trade deals for the Chinese tech company Huawei.

The company fired Wang when he was detained, but has provided him with financial support to pay for his legal defense and said in a statement that the defendant’s activities were always “in accordance with the highest levels of transparency and respect for the law.”

Wang has been in pre-trial detention since his arrest. Durbajlo, a former cybersecurity expert for government agencies, including the Internal Security Agency, was released on bail after six months in detention.

According to the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper , the indictment is partially classified, but its public section alleges that Wang is a Chinese intelligence agent and that between 2011 and 2019 he sought high-ranking contracts for Huawei that would give the Chinese company knowledge and influence over state and local government data systems in Poland.

Both men face criminal charges for participating in a foreign intelligence operation and threatening Polish interests. If convicted, they face a minimum of three years in prison.

Wang studied in Poland and later worked at the Chinese consulate in Gdansk before moving to a senior position at Huawei. He is also known by the Polish Christian name “Stanislaw”. Authorities suspect that the Pole helped him establish contacts and provided him with documents. Some observers say the documents were public and unclassified.

The trial is expected to last for months and there is still no date for a final verdict.

Wang’s arrest came a few weeks after the arrest in December 2019 of a company executive, Meng Wanzhou – the daughter of one of Huawei’s top officials in Canada – . Unlike Wanzhou, for whom Beijing vehemently called for his release, the Chinese company quickly fired the suspected spy.

In response to inquiries from the international press, the company declined to comment because the case is ongoing. He has repeatedly denied the US allegations, but since the men’s arrest, Huawei’s fortune in Europe has fallen. Countries like Great Britain and Sweden have banned Huawei equipment from their networks. Others, like France, say they favor their national rivals , such as Ericsson and Nokia, for security reasons.

The Balkan countries, for their part, have signed a US-led “Clean Net” agreement aimed at excluding Chinese hardware suppliers.

The Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD), for its part, published a report last February on threats to Dutch national security interests and was forceful in its criticism of China , stating that Beijing’s cyber espionage It represents an “imminent threat” to the economy of the European country, especially in sectors such as banking, energy and infrastructure.

In Finland, the director of the National Intelligence and Security Service, Antti Pelttari, warned that “authoritarian countries are trying to take over Finland’s critical infrastructure.” The official was referring to China and Russia.

Huawei equipment has been blocked by the United States since 2012 and has also been rejected by Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Meanwhile, an advisory report from the US Congress consulted by the Reuters agency indicated that the US Department of Commerce is not doing its part to protect national security and keep sensitive technology out of the reach of the Chinese military.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission report, released Tuesday, says the US Commerce Department has been slow to create a list of sensitive technology that must be vetted before export to China. The delay in compiling the list of emerging and core technologies, as required by a 2018 law, may compound national security risks, according to the report.

The Commerce Department, charged with enforcing US export control laws, “has not fulfilled its responsibilities to date,” according to the report, titled “Outstanding Business: Export and Investment Control Reforms. foreign ”.

In the midst of this panorama, Poland is preparing an amendment to the cybersecurity legislation that, according to experts, could lead to the exclusion of Huawei from its 5G networks and possibly the telecommunications sector as a whole.

With information from AP and EFE

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