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Poland arrests Chinese businessman on spy charges

Poland China Espionage
The Huawei logo displayed at the main office of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Warsaw, Poland, Jan. 11, 2019. AP

Warsaw, Poland -- Poland's Internal Security Agency has arrested a Chinese businessman and a Pole on suspicion of espionage, officials said on Friday. The operation that resulted in the arrest of the two suspects had been underway for a long time and was planned with care, said Maciej Wasik, deputy head of Poland's special services.

Wasik said that the Chinese suspect was a businessman working for a major electronics corporation and that the Pole was "known in circles associated with cyber-business affairs."

He said "both carried out espionage activities against Poland," but did not identify them.

A spokesman for the agency, Stanislaw Zaryn, said the two were arrested on Tuesday.

Polish state TV, which is close to the government, identified the Chinese man as Weijing W., saying he was a director in Poland at Huawei, the Chinese conglomerate that produces telecommunications equipment and consumer electronics.

State TV identified the Pole as Piotr D., and said he was a former high-ranking employee at the Internal Security Agency, the agency that investigates spying and terrorism.

If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison.

China responds to arrest

An official at the Chinese Embassy in Warsaw said China attached "great importance to the detention" of a citizen in Poland and that a representative of the embassy had met with officials at Poland's Foreign Ministry to discuss the case.

A spokeswoman at the Chinese Embassy told The Associated Press that embassy representatives have met with officials at Poland's Foreign Ministry and that China urged Poland "to inform China about the situation of this case and arrange a consular visit as soon as possible."

The spokeswoman added: "We require the Polish side to handle this case legally, fairly and properly and ensure the legal rights, interests, security and the humanitarian treatment of the Chinese citizen."

The official spoke on condition of anonymity, saying it was the official position of the Chinese government and that it "doesn't matter" who conveyed the comment.

The official wouldn't comment on whether the suspect is guilty, saying "the Chinese side opposes any speculations and defaming in the absence of concrete facts."

Huawei responds

The Chinese telecom giant was tightlipped on the reports that one of its employees had been arrested.

The company, which makes telecom equipment and consumer electronics, said in a statement that it is "aware of the situation, and we are looking into it."

Huawei said it "complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries where it operates, and we require every employee to abide by the laws and regulations in the countries where they are based."

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