The former head of the CIA and the National Security Agency in the US has said he is aware of hard evidence that Huawei Technologies has spied for the Chinese government, the Australian Financial Review newspaper reports.
Michael Hayden said in an interview with the paper that Huawei had “shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with”.
“I think that goes without saying,” he said.
According to the newspaper, Hayden said intelligence agencies have hard evidence of spying activity by the world’s No 2 telecoms equipment maker. It did not detail that evidence.
Huawei, founded in 1987 by the former People’s Liberation Army officer Ren Zhengfei, has repeatedly denied being linked to the Chinese government or military, or receiving financial support from either.
Huawei’s global cybersecurity 0fficer, John Suffolk, described the comments made by Hayden as “tired, unsubstantiated, defamatory remarks” and challenged him and other critics to present any evidence publicly.
“Huawei meets the communication needs of more than a third of the planet and our customers have the right to know what these unsubstantiated concerns are,” Suffolk said in a statement emailed to Reuters. “It’s time to put up or shut up.”
The report came a day after Britain announced it would review security at a cyber centre in southern England run by Huawei to ensure that the British telecommunications network was protected.
In October 2012, the US House of Representatives’ intelligence committee urged American firms to stop doing business with Huawei and ZTE Corporation, warning that China could use equipment made by the companies to spy on certain communications and threaten vital systems.