WARSAW, June 1 (Reuters) - An espionage trial involving a
former Polish secret services agent and an ex-employee of Huawei
begins in a Warsaw court on Tuesday as some European states
consider whether to exclude the Chinese group's equipment from
their 5G telecom networks.
Poland arrested the two men in January 2019 on suspicion of
spying for China, in a move that has ramped up international
debate over the potential security risks of using Huawei
equipment in communications networks.
Huawei has repeatedly denied its equipment can be used for
espionage by authorities in Beijing, but the United States has
been pressuring countries to ban it. In Europe, only Britain and
Sweden have so far done so.
Polish prosecutors allege that Wang Weijing, 39, using the
cover of being a Huawei executive, spent more than seven years
spying for China trying to bolster the company's ability to
influence the Polish government and "enable it to... manage the
state... technology infrastructure", court documents show.
The court closed the case to the public on Tuesday after a
request from the prosecution. Prosecutor Anna Karlinska told the
court this was necessary to protect the methods used in Polish
Wang, who has been in detention since his arrest, is also
charged with recruiting a former Polish secret service agent
who, prosecutors say, informed him about ways of influencing the
country's rescue and public safety services radio networks.
The Polish defendant, Piotr D., who had been released upon
paying bail after six months and had worked for years in the top
echelons of government, is accused of "offering himself as a
source of information" regarding public administration.
Both men deny any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors say that the cybersecurity specialist, who has
asked that his last name be withheld under privacy rules,
informed Wang of a monitoring system to guard against intruders
accessing classified information sent through fibre optic
communication networks created by Warsaw military university.
Wang's lawyer, Bartlomiej Jankowski, said prosecutors had no
proof of any spying activity by his client.
"There is no evidence of anything illegal," he told Reuters.
Huawei, which fired Wang after his arrest but has helped
finance his legal fees, told Reuters in a statement last month
that its activities are "in accordance with the highest
standards of transparency and adherence to laws and regulation."
Jankowski told Reuters he planned to file a complaint to the
European Court of Human Rights against Poland in the coming
The administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump had
praised Poland for the arrests, with former vice-president Mike
Pence saying in 2019 that they demonstrated Warsaw's commitment
to ensuring the telecommunications sector was "not compromised
in a way that threatens our national security".
At the time, Warsaw was seeking to convince the United
States to increase its military presence in Poland, alarmed by
increased Russian assertiveness.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's government proposed
draft legislation last year that could lead to a de facto
exclusion of Huawei from building 5G networks, but the proposal
has yet to be discussed by parliament.
European mobile operators have long been reluctant to start
investing in 5G networks, which could support smart factories
and self-driving cars, because of a lack of political clarity
about whether they must accede to U.S. demands to exclude
leading equipment supplier Huawei and other Chinese vendors.
Huawei said that its exclusion from 5G would mean an almost
44 billion zlotys ($12 billion) loss for the Polish economy and
a delay of 5G rollout by a few years.
It has challenged Sweden's ban on its equipment in 5G
networks, where a verdict is awaited from a local court.
Romania's government also approved a bill that effectively
bars China and Huawei from taking part in the development of its
5G network in April, but it still needs parliament's upper house
approval, considered to be a rubber-stamp.
($1 = 3.6646 zlotys)
(Additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and
Joanna Plucinska in Warsaw; Editing by Alexander Smith and