January 18, 2019 / 4:25 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-Huawei Polish unit executive says he is not guilty of spying charges

(Adds details, background)

WARSAW, Jan 18 (Reuters) - A Chinese executive of Huawei arrested earlier this month in Poland on suspicion of spying said on Friday he was not guilty in the case, which has drawn attention to what some Western countries say is a security risk from the world’s biggest telecoms equipment company.

“With reference to my detention on Jan. 8 under charges of alleged actions in foreign intelligence against Poland, I hereby strongly declare that I am innocent,” the man, who can be only partly identified as Weijing W. under Polish law, said in a statement sent by his lawyer.

Poland announced on Jan. 11 it had arrested him and a former Polish security official on spying allegations. Huawei said the following day that Weijing W. was fired.

The court has ordered the men held for up to three months pending further investigation.

Weijing W. also said that the charges against him are “completely groundless and terribly hurtful”.

“I have never consciously had contact with and I certainly did not cooperate with any kind of intelligence, especially Chinese intelligence,” the man said.

The Polish spying case comes as a range of Western countries have either taken steps or said they are considering measures to limit access of Huawei to their markets. The company denies wrongdoing or that it poses a security risk in the West.

U.S. officials have said that the company is at the beck and call of the Chinese state and that its equipment could contain “back doors” allowing espionage. Huawei says such concerns are unfounded.

The company’s chief financial officer is being held in Canada on a U.S. extradition request over accusations of sanctions busting which Huawei also denies.

Huawei, once a fast follower of Nordic firms Nokia and Ericsson, is now a $93 billion global market leader in an industry where there is no U.S. champion.

In a lengthy statement e-mailed to Reuters by his lawyer on Friday, Weijing W. said that he had lived in Poland for more than 12 years. He was hired at Huawei’s Polish unit in 2011 as public relations manager.

Poland, where Huawei is the smartphone market leader and provides a significant part of telecom infrastructure, could also consider banning the use of Huawei products by public bodies, a senior government official said on Sunday. (Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Writing by Agnieszka Barteczko)

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