DOJ charges Huawei with racketeering, theft of trade secrets


Huawei phones are virtually invisible in the US despite its massive presence around the world.

Angela Lang/CNET

The US Department of Justice on Thursday said it’s charging Huawei with racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets. The 16-count indictment accuses the company, the world’s No. 1 telecom supplier and No. 2 phone manufacturer, of using “fraud and deception” to steal technology from US companies. 

The indicted defendants include Huawei as well as four official and unofficial subsidiaries: Huawei Device, Huawei USA, Futurewei and Skycom. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested by Canadian authorities in 2018 at the request of the US over alleged Iran sanctions violation, is also listed. 

The new indictment includes charges from a previous indictment that was unsealed in January 2019.

Huawei didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The updated charges escalate an already turbulent relationship between Huawei and the US government. The core issue is concerns about Huawei’s coziness with the Chinese government and fears that its equipment could be used to spy on other countries and companies. Last year, the Commerce department blacklisted Huawei following a May executive order from President Donald Trump that effectively banned the company from US communications networks. 

Earlier this week, Huawei was accused of using backdoors intended for law enforcement to access networks it helped build that are being used by phones around the world. The details were disclosed to the UK and Germany at the end of 2019 after the US had noticed access since 2009 across 4G equipment, according a report from The Wall Street Journal, citing US officials. 

Huawei has long denied any wrongdoing and continues to maintain its innocence. 

More to come.

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