SYDNEY (REUTERS) - The former head of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is aware of hard evidence that Huawei Technologies has spied for the Chinese government, the Australian Financial Review newspaper reported on Friday.
Mr Michael Hayden, also the former head of the US National Security Agency, 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 was quoted as saying.
Mr Hayden told the newspaper 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 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.
Mr Hayden is a director of Motorola Solutions, which provides radios, smart tags, barcode scanners and safety products. Huawei and Motorola Solutions had previously been engaged in intellectual property disputes for a number of years.
Huawei global cyber security officer John Suffolk described the comments made by Mr 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," Mr Suffolk said in a statement e-mailed 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 is protected.
In October last year, the US House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee urged American firms to stop doing business with Huawei and ZTE , warning that China could use equipment made by the companies to spy on certain communications and threaten vital systems through computerised links.
The Australian government has barred Huawei from involvement in the building of its A$37.4 billion (S$43.12 billion) National Broadband Network.