Huawei fights back against US with newspaper ad and not guilty plea

(Image credit: Huawei) (Image credit: Huawei)

Huawei has taken out a full-page advert in several major US newspapers to deny allegations that its networking equipment is a security risk, while the company has also pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud.

The advert appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Politico, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times on Thursday 28 February.

It urged readers to make their own mind up about the company, claiming the US government had developed some misunderstandings, and referenced some its work in disaster relief areas.

“Don’t believe everything you hear,” the advert reportedly states. “Our doors are always open. We would like the US public to get to know us better.”

Huawei advert

The move is the latest in a series of public rejections of US-led claims that Huawei facilitates state-sponsored surveillance because of perceived links to the Chinese government. Huawei is effectively frozen out of the US market, while several other countries have expressed concerns about the use of the vendor’s gear in their telecoms infrastructure.

Reclusive founder Ren Zhengfei has met with foreign journalists and held an interview with the BBC, while at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Rotating Chairman Guo Ping said the US was making unfounded allegations.

“The US security accusation on our 5G has no evidence, nothing,” he declared. “The irony is that the US Cloud Act allows their governmental entities to access data across borders.

“Prism, prism on the wall. Who’s the most trustworthy of them all? It’s an important question to ask. And if you don’t understand this question, go ask Edward Snowden.”

Not guilty

In a separate development, Huawei has also pleaded not guilty to US fraud and trade secret theft at a court in Washington State. Earlier this year, the US Department of Justice filed 23 charges, comprising two separate indictments.

The first concerns 13 counts of financial fraud, the breaching of economic sanctions against Iran, and money laundering, while the second involves 10 counts of theft and charges related to the theft.

The first indictment relates to the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei CFO and daughter of Zhengfei, in Canada last year. It is alleged that Wanzhou aided Huawei to avoid sanctions on doing business in Iran, which if proven, could have put multinational banking organisations at risk of breaking those sanctions too.

The US is seeking the extradition of Wanzhou, a move which Zhengfei has called politically-motivated.

The second tranche of charges relate to the alleged theft of US carrier T-Mobile’s intellectual property. The US operator claimed in 2014 Huawei illegally stole technology related to mobile phone testing robot called ‘Tappy’, and a civil court in Seattle ruled that although trade secrets had been misappropriated, the act was not malicious.

Huawei blamed rogue elements within its organisation for the theft, but the DoJ claims it has evidence of a company-wide conspiracy to steal information related to Tappy.

The date for the trial has been set in March 2020.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.