Huawei says, without evidence, that U.S. pressured its employees

Chinese technology giant Huawei said Tuesday, without providing evidence, that the U.S. government had pressured the company’s employees to turn against it and had used cyberattacks to infiltrate the firm’s computer systems in recent months.

The company, which makes smartphones and equipment for telecommunications networks, has been the focus of an intense legal and political campaign by the Trump administration, which says Huawei products could be used by the Chinese government for spying or sabotage.

But in a news release Tuesday about an unrelated allegation of patent infringement, Huawei said the United States had recently expanded its offensive against the company.

In the past several months, the company said, American authorities had masqueraded as Huawei workers to “establish legal pretense for unfounded accusations against the company,” although it did not say what the accusations were.

The Huawei statement also said FBI agents had visited Huawei employees at their homes and had pressed them to collect information about the company and that the United States had targeted the firm’s internal systems with cyberattacks.

Huawei has long denied that its gear is a security threat, but American officials have pressured allied governments to bar cellular carriers from using the company’s equipment to build new networks.

The FBI declined to comment on the Huawei accusations. But in the past, the United States has used secret cyberoperations to fish out information about the company.

Years before the Trump administration took on Huawei, the National Security Agency began a covert program against the firm, and by 2010, the agency had pried its way into Huawei servers in China, The New York Times reported in 2014.

The main purpose of Huawei’s news release Tuesday was to rebut allegations that the company had stolen technology from Rui Oliveira, whom The Journal described as a Portuguese multimedia producer.

Huawei said Oliveira had met with company representatives in 2014 to pitch his design for a smartphone camera. After deciding not to use the design, Huawei released an independently developed camera in 2017, the company said.

Then, last year, Oliveira accused Huawei of infringing on his patents in the United States and threatened to air his claims in the news media unless the company paid him, Huawei said. The company filed a complaint against Oliveira in March, asking a U.S. court to declare that it had not violated Oliveira’s patents.

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