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FedEx sues Commerce Department in wake of Huawei package diversion

The department's blacklist "puts an impossible burden" on the delivery company, Fedex says.

FedEx Headquarters In China
FedEx isn't happy with the impact a US Department of Commerce blacklist is having on it.
VCG via Getty Images

FedEx on Monday hit US Department of Commerce with a lawsuit saying it's been forced to "police the millions of shipments" it transports each day by the department's trade blacklist -- which includes embattled Chinese phone maker Huawei. It comes a month after Huawei said it would review its relationship with the delivery company when packages bound for its Asian addresses ended up in the US.

Basically, the suit says the Export Administration Regulations "unreasonably" hold carriers like FedEx liable for shipments it handles without knowing they violate the blacklist.

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"This puts an impossible burden on a common carrier such as FedEx to know the origin and technological make-up of contents of all the shipments it handles and whether they comply with the EAR," the company said in a statement.

Huawei isn't mentioned by name in FedEx's suit or its statement, as noted by TechCrunch, but the reference to the "technological make-up of contents" is telling. Earlier this month, the Chinese government opened an investigation into FedEx over the four diverted Huawei packages, which Fedex said were misrouted accidentally and not because it was told to do so.

"We have not yet reviewed the complaint, but nevertheless look forward to defending Commerce's role in protecting US national security," a Commerce Department spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement.

First published at 3:58 a.m. PT.
Updated at 7:13 a.m. PT: Adds Commerce Department statement.