US accuses Huawei of stealing trade secrets and helps 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 indictment of the Chinese company, leading the fight between the US and & # 39; the world's largest producer telecommunications equipment is escalating.

In the indictment, which replaces a non-sealed last year before the federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Huawei Technologies Co. was accused of conspiring to steal trade secrets from six US technology companies and to violate an offense law commonly used to fight organized crime to combat.

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It also contains new allegations about the company's involvement in countries where sanctions apply. Among other allegations, it says that Huawei has installed surveillance equipment in Iran that was used to track, identify and detain demonstrators during anti-government demonstrations in Tehran in 2009.

The United States is campaigning against Huawei, which it has warned could spy on customers for Beijing. Washington put the company on a blacklist of trade last year, citing concerns about national security.

The indictment is "part of an attempt to irrevocably damage the reputation and business of Huawei for reasons related to competition rather than law enforcement," Huawei said in a statement.

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It called the racketeering accusation "an artificial repackaging of a handful of citizen allegations that are almost 20 years old."

Huawei did not plead guilty to the earlier charges against the company in January 2019, which accused it of bank and bank fraud, violating sanctions against Iran and impeding justice.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang asked about the charges during a daily briefing in Beijing on Friday and urged 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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Meng Wanzhou, Chief Financial Officer, was arrested in Canada in December 2018 on charges of indictment, causing a stir in China and a chill in Canadian-Chinese relations. She said she's innocent and fights extradition.

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

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The new costs for theft of trade secrets concern source code of internet router, cellular antenna technology and robotics.

For example, Huawei and its subsidiary Futurewei Technologies Inc. have been accused since 2000 of misuse of the internet router operating system source code, commands used to communicate with the routers, and operating system manuals from a company in Northern California. Futurewei was added as a suspect in the final charge.

Huawei then sold their routers in the United States as cheaper versions of the products of the American company, the indictment says.

FILE PHOTO: the Huawei logo is displayed at the IFA consumer technical fair in Berlin, Germany, September 6, 2019. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke / File Photo

Although the American company is not identified, Cisco Systems sued Huawei in Texas in 2003 for copyright infringement with regard to its routers.

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

"The indictment paints a damn portrait of an unlawful organization that has no respect for the law," said Richard Burr, US Senate Commissioner and Vice-President Mark Warner, in a joint statement.

The Republican and Democratic Senators called it "an important step in the fight against Huawei's state-led and criminal enterprise."

The indictment also accuses Meng and Huawei of conspiring to deceive HSBC and other banks by misrepresenting Huawei's relationship with a company operating in Iran.

It refers to reports from Reuters from seven years ago about Huawei's links with Skycom Tech Co. Ltd., which offered to sell goods originating in the US to Iran, in violation of US law. It also mentions news reports in Reuters and the Wall Street Journal that claimed that Huawei assisted the Iranian government in domestic surveillance. reut.rs/2sUq8RT

In addition to accusing Huawei of lying about his activities in Iran, the latest charge says that Huawei has wrongly stated to banks that it had no business in North Korea.

The US trade department placed Huawei on a black list of trading activities in May that prohibited US suppliers from selling parts and components to the company.

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves B.C. Supreme Court after her extradition session at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, January 23, 2020. REUTERS / Jennifer Gauthier

On Thursday, the Commerce Department announced in positive news for the company that it would extend a temporary general license for 45 days so that US companies can continue to do business with Huawei. The move is intended to maintain existing equipment and give providers in rural communities more time to find alternatives to the company's networks.

At the same time, the United States is weighing new regulations to stop more foreign shipments of products with American technology to Huawei.

And Washington has continued to put pressure on other countries to remove Huawei from their mobile networks because of its claim that the equipment could be used by Beijing for espionage.

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

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