Huawei ex-director on trial in Poland on China spying charge

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The Associated Press

Chinese citizen and former director at Huawei in Poland, Weijing Wang, at the opening of his trial on charges of spying for China at a court in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Wang has pleaded not guilty. On the prosecutors' motion the court ordered the case be held behind closed doors and the media were asked to leave the courtroom..(AP Photo/Monika Scislowska)

WARSAW – Two men accused of spying for China went on trial Tuesday in Warsaw — a Chinese citizen who is a former sales director of Huawei in Poland and a Polish cybersecurity expert.

The men, Weijing Wang and Piotr Durbajlo, have both pleaded not guilty.

At the start of Tuesday's session in Poland's capital, a prosecutor requested that the trial be held in secret because of the classified nature of some of the evidence.

Defense lawyers objected, saying the nature of the charges requires that the proceedings be transparent. Both Wang, speaking in fluent Polish, and Durbajlo said they wanted an open trial. But after a brief recess, the three-judge panel announced the proceedings would be held behind closed doors, citing state interests, and journalists were told to leave.

Wang and Durbajlo were arrested by Polish authorities in January 2019 and accused of spying for China under the cover of seeking business deals for Chinese technology company Huawei.

The pair were arrested amid a wider geopolitical battle between the U.S. and China over technology and trade supremacy. Former President Donald Trump's administration lobbied European allies to boycott Huawei's next generation mobile phone networking gear over concerns that it could be used by Beijing to facilitate cyberespionage or digital sabotage.

Wang has been in custody since his arrest. Durbajlo, a former cybersecurity expert for government agencies including the Internal Security Agency, was released on bail after six months in custody.

According to the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, the indictment is partly classified, but its public section alleges that Wang is a Chinese intelligence agent and from 2011-2019 sought high-ranking contracts for Huawei that would give the Chinese company insight into, and influence over, state and local government data systems in Poland.