US accuses Huawei of stealing trade secrets, helping Iran

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – US prosecutors accused Huawei on Thursday of stealing trade secrets and helping Iran track down protesters in their latest accusation against the Chinese company, intensifying the U.S. battle with the largest equipment maker telecommunications industry in the world.

In the indictment, which replaces an unsealed one last year in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Huawei Technologies Co. was accused of conspiring to steal trade secrets from six U.S. technology companies and violating an extortion law normally used to combat organized crime.

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It also contains new claims about the company's involvement in countries subject to sanctions. Among other charges, it says that Huawei installed surveillance equipment in Iran used to monitor, identify and detain protesters during the 2009 anti-government demonstrations in Tehran.

The United States has been running a campaign against Huawei, which has warned that it could spy on Beijing customers. Washington blacklisted the company last year, citing national security concerns.

The charge is "part of an attempt to irrevocably damage Huawei's reputation and business for reasons related to competition, not law enforcement," Huawei said in a statement.

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He called the extortion charge "an artificial repackaging of a handful of civil charges almost 20 years old".

Huawei pleaded not guilty to the previous unspoken charge against the company in January 2019, which accused it of bank and electronic fraud, violation of sanctions against Iran and obstruction of justice.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, questioned about the accusations during a daily briefing in Beijing on Friday, asked the United States to immediately stop suppressing Chinese companies for no reason. Such acts seriously damage the credibility and image of the United States, he said.

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Its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in December 2018 in Canada, accused of this charge, causing a stir in China and a chill in Canadian-Chinese relations. She said she is innocent and is fighting extradition.

There are no new charges against Meng in the replacement charge.

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The new charges of trade secret theft are related to the source code of the Internet router, cellular antenna technology and robotics.

For example, since 2000, Huawei and its subsidiary Futurewei Technologies Inc have been accused of misappropriating the operating system's source code for Internet routers, commands used to communicate with a company's operating system routers and manuals. Northern California. Futurewei was added as a defendant on the latest charge.

Huawei sold its routers in the United States as lower-cost versions of the American company's products, the indictment says.

ARCHIVE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is depicted at the IFA consumer technology fair in Berlin, Germany, on September 6, 2019. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke / File Photo

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

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

"The prosecution shows a condemning portrait of an illegitimate organization that does not respect the law," said Richard Burr, chairman of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, and vice president Mark Warner, in a joint statement.

Republican and Democratic senators considered it "an important step in combating the criminal and state-run company of Huawei".

The prosecution also accuses Meng and Huawei of conspiring to defraud HSBC and other banks, distorting Huawei's relationship with a company that operated in Iran.

He refers to the Reuters report seven years ago about Huawei's ties to Skycom Tech Co Ltd, which offered to sell products of U.S. origin to Iran, in violation of U.S. law. He also mentions reports from Reuters and the Wall Street Journal that allege that Huawei helped the Iranian government with domestic surveillance. reut.rs/2sUq8RT

In addition to accusing Huawei of lying about its operations in Iran, the latest charge says that Huawei falsely represented banks that it had no business in North Korea.

The U.S. Department of Commerce in May put Huawei on a commercial blacklist that restricted U.S. suppliers from selling parts and components to the company.

Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, leaves BC Supreme Court after his extradition hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, January 23, 2020. REUTERS / Jennifer Gauthier

On Thursday, in some positive news for the company, the Commerce Department announced that it would extend a temporary general license for 45 days, allowing American companies to continue doing business with Huawei. The measure aims to maintain existing equipment and allow suppliers from rural communities to find more time to find alternatives to the company's networks.

At the same time, the United States is evaluating new regulations to prevent further shipments of foreign products using U.S. technology to Huawei.

And Washington continued to pressure other countries to remove Huawei from its cell phone networks due to the claim that the equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld; additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel and David Shepardson in Washington, Huizhong Wu in Beijing; Edition by Rosalba O & # 39; Brien

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