Huawei has never engaged in hacking activities, the company’s vice president of strategy, Andrew Williamson, told foreign news agencies after a recent report claimed its technicians helped African governments to snoop on political opponents, including Uganda’s Bobi Wine of the People Power pressure group.
Williamson made the statement after traveling to the telecommunication giant’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that governments in Uganda and Zambia had allegedly enlisted Huawei’s help to spy on dissenting voices, including tapping into opposition politicians’ conversations, cracking encrypted communications, and conducting surveillance.
The newspaper said that the intricate work was allegedly done by Huawei technicians in Africa, while not providing proof that the company’s top executives in China had any knowledge of the alleged spying arrangement between the firm’s employees and local authorities.
Williamson has dismissed the report as “fake news” lacking any corroborating evidence.
“We refuted that quite vociferously. Again, it just feels like it’s one those stories that come up now and again, that are completely unverified. Even other companies that have been cited in terms of their involvement have made it very clear that they don’t even have contracts in Uganda,” he said.
The VP urged against taking such allegations at face value.
“You really have to check everything, assume nothing and trust almost nobody. And that’s the process and the system that we stick to and work with many of our partners around the world on that basis.
“So it looks like that this story is unfortunately just really fake news,” he added.
Huawei’s continuing status as a private company has proven to be in its favor, Williamson said, noting that employees that are also shareholders have “a real vested interest” in the commercial success and the quality of products and services it renders.
“It’s a private company owned by its employees, it’s about a hundred thousand shareholders. There are extraordinary benefits of running an organization like that, because people don’t necessary just pick up their paycheck at the end of the week or at the end of the month.”