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WARSAW, Poland — A Chinese businessman and a Pole have been arrested by Poland’s Internal Security Agency on suspicion of espionage, an official said Friday.
Maciej Wasik, deputy head of Poland’s special services, said that the operation had been underway for a long time and was planned with care.
A Huawei spokeswoman later confirmed to NBC News that one of its employees had been arrested but would not comment further on the case, which comes amid Western criticism of the Chinese telecoms equipment maker.
Wasik added that the Polish national was “known in circles associated with cyber-business affairs.” He alleged both suspects “carried out espionage activities against Poland.”
If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison.
TV channel TVP said security services had also searched the local offices of Huawei Technologies Cos Ltd , as well as the offices of telecoms firm Orange Polska.
In a statement to NBC News, Huawei said the firm was “aware of the situation and we are looking into it.”
Orange said in a statement the security agency had on Tuesday gathered materials related to an employee, whom it did not identify. The company added that it did not know if the investigation was linked to the employee’s professional work, and that it would continue to cooperate with the authorities.
In December, Canadian authorities arrested a top Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, at the behest of U.S. authorities as part of an investigation into alleged violations of U.S. trade sanctions.
U.S. intelligence agencies allege Huawei is linked to China’s government and that its equipment could contain “backdoors” for use by spies. No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the claims.
The U.S. criticism has led to a number of Western countries and companies to review whether they should allow Huawei’s equipment to be used in their telecoms networks.
Associated Press and Ross Cullen contributed.