Secret surveillance has been used by US authorities to gather information about China’s tech giant Huawei, that the US plans to use in a case accusing the Chinese company of sanctions-busting and bank fraud, Reuters reported.
The evidence, obtained under the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, (FISA), would require classified handling, Assistant US attorney Alex Solomon said on Thursday April 4th.
Giving no details on how it was obtained, the government notified Huawei in a court filing on Thursday April 4th of its intent to use the information gathered. The move comes in line with US pressure on countries to drop Huawei from their cellular networks, citing its worry that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying. The company has said the concerns are unfounded.
FISA surveillance, which requires a warrant from a special court, is generally sought in connection with suspected espionage, said Brian Frey, a former federal prosecutor.
"The reason they typically would have gotten the surveillance through a FISA court is where we suspect someone may be spying on behalf of a foreign power," Frey said.
The US government has been concerned about espionage by Huawei for years, he added.
In the Brooklyn case, Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, are accused of conspiring to defraud the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), and other banks, by misrepresenting Huawei's relationship with Skycom Tech Co Ltd, a suspected front company that operated in Iran. Huawei has said Skycom was a local business partner, but prosecutors said in their indictment against Huawei and Meng, that it was an unofficial subsidiary used to conceal Huawei’s Iran business.
US authorities claim Huawei used Skycom to obtain embargoed US goods, technology and services for Iran, and to move money via the international banking system. The charges against the company include violating US sanctions on Iran.
Meng was arrested in Canada in December at the request of the U S to face the charges of bank and wire fraud laid out in the indictment, which was not unsealed until January. She has said she is innocent of the charges and is fighting extradition.
Last month, Reuters detailed how US authorities secretly tracked Huawei's activities by collecting information copied from electronic devices carried by Chinese telecom executives travelling through airports.
The next court date in the Brooklyn case is set for June 19.