January 13, 2019 / 2:39 PM / 9 months ago

Poland could limit use of Huawei products after worker arrested

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland could consider banning the use of Huawei products by public bodies, a senior government official said on Sunday, following the arrest of a Chinese Huawei official in the east European country last week.

FILE PHOTO: A man uses his phone as he walks past a Huawei shop in Beijing, China, December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

The Polish government could also look to tighten legislation to allow the authorities to limit the availability of products made by any company deemed to pose a threat to security.

Poland arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a former Polish security official on spying allegations, officials and sources told Reuters on Friday, a move that could fuel Western security concerns about the telecoms equipment maker.

A government official who is responsible for cyber security told Reuters “abrupt” policy changes towards Huawei were not warranted after the arrests.

But he said the use of the company’s products by state entities could be reviewed.

“We will analyse whether ... our decision can include an end to the use ... of Huawei products,” Karol Okonski told Reuters.

“We do not have the legal means to force private companies or citizens to stop using any IT company’s products. It cannot be ruled out that we will consider legislative changes that would allow such a move,” he added.

A spokesman for Poland’s security services said on Friday the Polish official arrested by the country’s Internal Security Agency (ISA) had been responsible for issuing security certificates for equipment used by public administration.

“(He) used to work for a number of public institutions, held important managerial positions and was also connected with ... institutions that protect internal security,” he told public broadcaster TVP.

Seeking to distance itself from the incident, Huawei HWT.UL said on Saturday it had sacked its employee, adding his “alleged actions have no relation to the company.”

Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with China’s government and U.S.-led allegations that its devices could be used by Beijing for spying.

No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the accusations, but several Western countries have restricted Huawei’s access to their markets.

Poland’s internal affairs minister, Joachim Brudzinski, called for the European Union and NATO to work on a joint position over whether to exclude Huawei from their markets.

“We are examining the readiness of the (EU and NATO) countries to work on a joint position,” Okonski told Reuters referring to the new generation of 5G telecoms infrastructure.

Editing by Keith Weir

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