Polish Man Arrested Over Spying for China While Working in Government: WSJ

January 16, 2019 Updated: January 16, 2019

WARSAW—A former Polish security official arrested by Polish authorities has been charged with spying for China while still working for Polish government institutions, the Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 15.

Piotr Durbajlo, who was working for Orange Polska at the time of his arrest on Jan. 10, had previously worked for Poland’s Internal Security Agency and the Office of Electronic Communications, among other state institutions between 2000 and 2017, according to a LinkedIn profile in his name.

Spokespeople from Poland’s national prosecutor’s office and security services declined to comment on the Journal’s report when contacted by Reuters. Reuters was not able immediately to determine the identity of Durbajlo’s lawyers.

On Jan. 11, officials said Durbajlo was arrested along with Chinese national Weijing Wang, an executive of telecommunications equipment maker Huawei, on allegations of spying, in a move that fuels Western security concerns about the Chinese company. The officials did not disclose details of the alleged espionage.

Both men heard charges in a Polish court last week.

Poland’s government could consider limiting the use of Huawei products by public bodies in the wake of the arrests, a government official told Reuters on Sunday.

Heightened Scrutiny

Huawei has come under intense scrutiny in recent months as countries including AustraliaNew Zealand and Japan have followed U.S. moves against the company, citing security concerns.

Canadian authorities in December arrested Huawei finance chief Meng Wanzhou at the behest of U.S. authorities as part of an investigation into alleged violations of U.S. trade sanctions, raising tensions with China at a time when Washington and Beijing are engaged in a broader trade war.

The West’s security concerns surrounding Huawei, and fellow Chinese telecoms equipment firm ZTE Corp, center around China’s National Intelligence Law. Approved in 2017, the law states that Chinese “organizations and citizens shall, in accordance with the law, support, cooperate with, and collaborate in national intelligence work.”

This has sparked fears Huawei could be asked by the Chinese government to incorporate “backdoors” into their equipment that would allow Beijing access, for spying or sabotage purposes. Some experts also see a risk that Chinese intelligence may develop an ability to subvert Huawei’s equipment.

By Joanna Plucinska