US brings new charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei

The Justice Department has added new criminal charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei and two of its United States subsidiaries, accusing the company in a plot to steal trade secrets. (AP)
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Updated 14 February 2020

US brings new charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei

  • The company issued a statement Thursday evening disputing the allegations and calling them “without merit”
  • The new allegations come as the Trump administration raises national security concerns about Huawei

WASHINGTON: The Justice Department has added new criminal charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei and several subsidiaries, accusing the company of a brazen scheme to steal trade secrets from competitors in America, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

The new indictment also alleges the company provided surveillance equipment to Iran that enabled the monitoring of protesters during 2009 anti-government demonstrations in Tehran, and that it sought to conceal business that it was doing in North Korea despite economic sanctions there.

The company issued a statement Thursday evening disputing the allegations and calling them “without merit.”

The new allegations come as the Trump administration raises national security concerns about Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, and aggressively lobbies Western allies to bar the company from wireless, high-speed networks.

The superseding indictment, brought by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, adds to the company’s legal woes in the US It adds charges of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to steal trade secrets to an existing criminal case in New York, where the company already faces charges of lying to banks about deals that violated economic sanctions against Iran.

Federal prosecutors in Seattle have brought a separate trade secrets theft case against the company. Meng Wanzhou, a senior Huawei executive and the daughter of the company’s founder, is accused of making false representations to banks about Huawei’s relationship with its Iran-based affiliate. She was arrested in
Vancouver, British Columbia, and has yet to be extradited to the US.

The latest indictment, an update of a case first filed last year, accuses Huawei of plotting to steal the trade secrets and intellectual property of rival companies in the US.

In some instances, prosecutors said, Huawei recruited employees of competitors to steal intellectual property. The company also provided incentives to its own employees by offering bonuses to those who brought in the most valuable stolen information, and it used proxies, including professors at research institutions, in the pursuit of inside information, prosecutors said.

The stolen information included antenna and robot testing technology as well as user manuals for Internet routers. One goal of the theft, the Justice Department said, was to allow Huawei to save on research and development costs. The indictment details efforts to steal from a half dozen companies.

In one May 2013 episode, according to the indictment, a Huawei engineer removed a robot arm from the laboratory of a rival company based in Washington state, stashing the item in a laptop bag. The engineer emailed photographs and measurements of the arm to others at Huawei before the arm was returned to the company, which had discovered the theft.

At a 2004 trade show in Chicago, a Huawei employee was found in the middle of the night in the booth of a technology company, “removing the cover from a networking device and taking photographs of the circuitry inside,” prosecutors said. The employee wore a badge that listed his employer as “Weihua,” or Huawei spelled with its syllables reversed.

The indictment also lays out steps that the company to conceal its business dealings with Iran and North Korea, including by referring to both countries in internal documents by their code names.

In a statement, Huawei called the new indictment “part of the Justice Department’s attempt to irrevocably damage Huawei’s reputation and its business for reasons related to competition rather than law enforcement.”

“These new charges are without merit and are based largely on recycled civil disputes from last 20 years that have been previously settled, litigated and in some cases, rejected by federal judges and juries,” it said. “The government will not prevail on its charges, which we will prove to be both unfounded and unfair.”

Trump administration officials, including Cabinet secretaries, have recently leveled national security allegations against Huawei in an effort to encourage European nations to ban the gear from next-generation cellular networks.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper made the pitch to Western allies during a trip to Munich this week. Attorney General William Barr, in a speech last week, lamented what he said was China’s aspiration for economic dominance and proposed that the US invest in Western competitors of Huawei.

The administration’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, asserted this week that Huawei can secretly tap into communications through the networking equipment it sells globally. The company disputes that, saying it “has never and will never covertly access telecom networks, nor do we have the capability to do so.”


Older Bollywood actors barred from work as virus precaution

Updated 33 min ago

Older Bollywood actors barred from work as virus precaution

  • Maharashtra govt order targets employees aged 65 and above even after lockdown ends

PATNA: A senior citizen clause in a state government notice, barring all Bollywood actors and employees aged 65 and above from working during and after the coronavirus lockdown, has shocked the Indian film industry (IFI).

“Signed declarations should capture their name, age, contact details, blood group, in case of any ailments like diabetes, hypertension, cardiac issues, etc. Any cast / crew members above the age of 65 years will not be allowed at the site,” read the order issued by the Maharashtra government.

The letter provides a step-by-step guideline for Bollywood’s return to shooting once the lockdown is lifted in Maharashtra and the rest of India.

Mumbai, Maharashtra’s capital, is home to the IFI and is the epicenter of the virus in India. Maharashtra’s government says the order was issued “to protect the elderly from the virus.” 

In principle, it means that veteran and world-renowned actors such as Amitabh Bachchan, 77, cannot shoot even after the current lockdown ends.

“So many of the most prominent actors and technicians are above 65. Are they supposed to retire mid-assignment?” IFI spokesman Ashok Pandit told Arab News.

“Mr. Bachchan’s film ‘Chehre’ is under production. We all know Mr. Bachchan is going great guns at 77. Is he supposed to sit at home while the rest of the industry returns to work? It’s disgraceful.”

Pandit said age should not be a criterion for the blanket ban, adding: “Music director Wajid Khan, who died due to COVID-19-related complications recently, was just 44.”

The film “Chehre” also stars distinguished Bengali actor Dhritiman Chatterjee, 75, and its legendary cinematographer Binod Pradhan is nearly 80.

Its writer-director Rumy Jaffrey said he is embarrassed and somewhat alarmed by the Maharashtra government’s age-specific embargo.

I’ve never sat down to think about my age. I’ve done my work to the best of my abilities, and will continue to do so.

Amitabh Bachchan

“I am sure better sense will prevail,” he added. “Bachchan Saab and so many other actors are doing their best work well past 65.”

On Monday, the Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association protested the ban in a letter to Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of Maharashtra.

Besides Bachchan, the letter lists actors Anupam Kher, Paresh Rawal, Annu Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Dharmendra, Shakti Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty, Pankaj Kapur, Jackie Shroff, Danny Denzongpa, Dalip Tahil, Tinnu Anand, Rakesh Bedi and Kabir Bedi, as well as legendary directors, filmmakers and writers who would be impacted by the ban.

They are “above 65 years and actively working in the industry. This clause is therefore impractical since it would restrict some of the great luminaries of our industry,” read the letter.

Bachchan told Arab News: “I’ve never sat down to think about my age. I’ve done my work to the best of my abilities, and will continue to do so.” 

Rawal, who turned 65 last month and is a parliamentarian in the Indian central government, said the age-restricted order is “impractical.” 

His most notable works include “Hera Pheri,” “Hungama” and “Sardar Patel,” to name just a few. “It just says it all about the Maharashtra government’s thinking and planning,” he said.

However, not all veteran artists object to the directive. “I think it’s a good move because prevention is better than cure,” senior actor Jeetendra told Arab News. 

India’s most celebrated actress Shabana Azmi, 69, also defended the guideline. “It is for the safety of the senior actors because they are at a greater risk,” she said. “Let’s not interpret it as an illustration of ageism.”