Chinese tech giant Huawei announced on Thursday that it had filed a lawsuit against the US government over a law that prohibits federal agencies from using its equipment. It then accused the US of hacking its servers and stealing information.
“We are compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort,” Huawei Chairman Guo Ping said in a press conference held in Shenzhen on Thursday.
The lawsuit seeks to overturn a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which bans US government agencies from using equipment from Huawei or ZTE. Huawei claims the legislation is unconstitutional, as it singles out a group or an individual “without any executive or judicial process.”
“The US government has long branded Huawei a threat. It has hacked our servers and stolen our emails and source code,” Guo said, adding that the US government “has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions on Huawei products.”
The US has long been suspicious that the Chinese government could use back doors on Huawei devices to spy on other countries, saying that Huawei is legally bound to providing the government with data. The arrest of a former Huawei executive in Poland on spying charges in January has stoked these suspicions. Huawei faces criminal charges in the US for stealing technology and violating trade sanctions against Iran, which led to the December arrest of the company’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, in Canada.
Guo’s hacking accusations appear to be in reference to a massive cache of information leaked by former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, in 2013. In a story reported by The New York Times, the leaked documents show that the US agency penetrated Huawei servers in its Shenzhen headquarters seeking information on its networking equipment that the company has said is used by a third of the world’s populations, as well as links between Huawei and the Chinese military.
Reasons motivating the US government’s hacking of Huawei servers can be found in documents Snowden leaked, reported the South China Morning Post, citing a paywalled opinion piece Guo wrote for the Financial Times.
Huawei is sparing no effort to clear its name via worldwide media blitz and legal battles. Meng filed a civil suit against the Canadian government for wrongful imprisonment on Mar. 1. Huawei had taken out full-page ads in major New Zealand newspapers a month earlier, aiming to boost support for its inclusion in the country’s upcoming 5G rollout plan.