The United States Justice Department announced criminal charges against Huawei and its sub-companies on Thursday.
Prosecutors for the Justice Department out of Brooklyn, New York presented an indictment that alleges the company has stolen data from American business competitors, and aided Iran in its efforts to clamp down on government-opposition protests in the Iranian capital of Tehran.
The company used code words in internal documents to hide its business dealings with North Korea and Iran, prosecutors allege.
The report outlines how Huwei secretly helped develop North Korea's wireless internet infastructure.
The charges also allege that Huawei spied on 6 United States tech companies.
Prosecutors say Huawei is also alleged to have offered financial incentives to their employees to steal data, and to have secretly hired spies inside of competing companies to smuggle intellectual property. One cited incident involves the company hiring an engineer to steal a robot arm from a rival research lab located in Seattle, Washington. The worker photographed and sent information about the arm to Huawei before placing it back in the lab he took it from.
Another incident involves a Huawei employee breaking into a Chicago trade show in the middle of the night, where he was caught photographing the circuitry inside of networking devices.
The charges allege that some of the stolen data mainly involves technology research and includes information regarding cell antennas, towers, and routers being stolen, some of it by research professors.
The company is currently already facing fraud charges out of Seattle, Washington after the daughter of Huawei’s founder was accused of submitting false information regarding the extent of Huawei’s relationship with Iran. Currently, economic sanctions restrict dealings between companies involved with Iran who are looking to do business with the United States. Failing to disclose information involving trade with sanctioned governments to US banks is considered a fraudulent crime.
Huawei publicly stated that the new charges are “without merit”. In a released statement, Huawei says “The [United States] will not prevail on its charges, which we will prove to be both unfounded and unfair.”
The Trump administration has stated concerns over the tech manufacturer in regards to national security in the past, with President Trump signing an executive order specifically targeting the Chinese company last year in May, saying in a press release that “foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services,” and that the “unrestricted acquisition or use” of Huawei products is a security risk. Trump has lobbied for US tech companies to avoid working with Huawei.