The former head of the CIA and the US National Security Agency has said there is hard evidence that Huawei Technologies has spied for the Chinese government, the Australian Financial Review newspaper reports.
Michael Hayden said in an interview with AFR that Huawei had “shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with”.
According to Hayden, American intelligence agencies have hard proof of Huawei’s alleged espionage. He refrained from commenting on the nature of that evidence.
However, when pressed as to whether Huawei represents an unambiguous national security threat to the US and Australia, Hayden replied, ‘Yes, I believe it does.’
Huawei, founded in 1987 by the former People’s Liberation Army officer Ren Zhengfei, has repeatedly denied links to the Chinese government or military.
Huawei’s global cybersecurity officer, John Suffolk, responded to the comments made by Hayden as “tired, unsubstantiated, defamatory remarks,” challenging 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.”
In October 2012, the US House of Representatives’ intelligence committee urged American firms to stop doing business with Huawei and ZTE Corporation, warning that China could use equipment made by the companies to spy on certain communications and threaten vital systems.
More recently, the EU cited Huawei and ZTE for trade violations and hacking. They are in the midst of a full-fledged investigation into the telecoms’ practices.
The Australian government has also barred Huawei from involvement in the construction of its national broadband network.