The United States Justice Department has indicted China’s Huawei company and its subsidiaries of supplying surveillance equipment to Iran a decade ago, besides accusing the company of several other violations.
The firm provided the equipment to Tehran to monitor protesters way back in 2009 when there were violent protests in the country over presidential election results.
Huawei also allegedly plotted to steal trade secrets from American competitors, and conceal its business in North Korea, where US economic sanctions were in place.
The “stolen information” includes antenna and robot testing technology as well as user manuals for internet routers. Seven years ago, 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. Photographs and measurements of the arm were emailed to colleagues at Huawei before returning it to the original manufacturer.
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.
One goal of the theft was to reportedly cut down on research and development costs.
US Prosecutors have accused the Chinese firm of rewarding employees who brought in the most valuable stolen information with bonuses. Huawei is said to have used proxies, including professors at research institutions, in the pursuit of inside information.
In New York, the Chinese firm already faces charges of lying to banks about deals that violated economic sanctions against Iran.
Responding to the accusations, Huawei said in a statement: “The new indictment against Huawei is part of the US Justice Department’s attempt to irrevocably damage its 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."