Former CIA boss says aware of evidence Huawei spying for China

SYDNEY Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:36pm IST

A man looks at a Huawei mobile phone as he shops at an electronic market in Shanghai January 22, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

A man looks at a Huawei mobile phone as he shops at an electronic market in Shanghai January 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - The former head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency said he is aware of hard evidence that Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has spied for the Chinese government, the Australian Financial Review newspaper reported on Friday.

Michael Hayden, also the former head of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), said in an interview with the paper that Huawei had "shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with".

"I think that goes without saying," he was quoted as saying.

The newspaper reported Hayden said intelligence agencies have hard evidence of spying activity by the world's No. 2 telecoms equipment maker. It did not detail that evidence.

Huawei, founded in 1987 by former People's Liberation Army officer Ren Zhengfei, has repeatedly denied being linked to the Chinese government or military or receiving financial support from either.

Hayden is a director of Motorola Solutions, which provides radios, smart tags, barcode scanners and safety products. Huawei and Motorola Solutions Inc (MSI.N) had previously been engaged in intellectual property disputes for a number of years.

Huawei Global Cyber Security Officer John Suffolk described the comments made by Hayden as "tired, unsubstantiated defamatory remarks" and challenged him and other critics to present any evidence publicly.

"Huawei meets the communication needs of more than a third of the planet and our customers have the right to know what these unsubstantiated concerns are," Suffolk said in a statement emailed to Reuters. "It's time to put up or shut up."

The report came a day after Britain announced it would review security at a cyber centre in southern England run by Huawei to ensure that the British telecommunications network is protected.

In October 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee urged American firms to stop doing business with Huawei and ZTE Corp. 000063.SZ (0763.HK), warning that China could use equipment made by the companies to spy on certain communications and threaten vital systems through computerised links.

The Australian government has barred Huawei from involvement in the building of its A$37.4 billion National Broadband Network.

(Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by Paul Tait)

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