Huawei secretly helped build North Korea's wireless network, leaked documents suggest

Documents passed to the Washington Post by former Huawei employees indicate the company's involvement in North Korea.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
2 min read
In this photo illustration a Huawei logo seen displayed on a

Huawei is being linked to North Korea.

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Chinese tech giant Huawei could have helped secretly build a 3G wireless network for North Korea, according to internal documents leaked by a former employee of the company. Huawei worked with another Chinese company, Panda International Information Technology, on a number of projects in the region over the course of eight years, as suggested by work orders, contracts and spreadsheets published by the Washington Post on Monday.

The revelations come as the latest blow to Huawei's reputation in a series of events over the past year, a period in which the company has come under fire from the US government amid its trade war with China. In January, the US Justice Department unsealed indictments that included 23 counts pertaining to the alleged theft of intellectual property, obstruction of justice and fraud related to its alleged evasion of US sanctions against Iran. President Donald Trump has blacklisted the company as a security threat, and Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is under house arrest in Canada awaiting extradition to the US.

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The major concern in this latest case is that Huawei, which has used American tech in its components, could potentially have violated US export controls if it used those components within North Korea, which is subject to international sanctions over its nuclear regime and human rights abuses.

The documents were passed to the newspaper by a former employee of the company who believed they were in the public interest, and they were supported by other documents provided by two more people. The Washington Post says that Huawei would neither verify of deny the authenticity of the documents, which don't clearly indicate the company's specific involvement in the North Korea projects.

"Huawei is fully committed to comply with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including all export control and sanction laws and regulations of the United Nations, United States and European Union," said a spokesman for the company in a statement.

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