Dutch probe China's Huawei for possible spying: report

The Hague (AFP) –


Dutch intelligence services are investigating Huawei for possibly spying for the Chinese government by leaving a "back door" to data of customers of major telecoms firms, a report said Thursday.

The probe, reported by De Volkskrant newspaper, comes as a series of western countries weigh the risks of allowing the Chinese telecoms giant to become involved in the new 5G mobile phone infrastructure.

Volkskrant said the AIVD refused to confirm the report.

AIVD spokesman Hilbert Bredemeijer declined to comment, saying the spy agency "does not comment on possible individual cases" when contacted by AFP.

Huawei was quoted by the newspaper as denying the report, adding: "In every country where we do business, we abide by the laws and regulations and we protect the privacy of our customers."

The story, quoting intelligence sources, said Huawei was believed to have hidden secret access to customer information of three major Dutch networks, Vodafone/Ziggo, T-Mobile /Tele2 and KPN.

It added that the AIVD was now probing whether there was a link with Chinese espionage efforts.

The report comes at a sensitive time as the cabinet of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is due shortly to decide about Huawei's involvement in the Netherlands' new 5G network.

KPN said in April that it had signed a deal with the Chinese firm to modernise its existing 4G network but that it would look to a western provider for 5G.

The Dutch debate is part of a wider battle between China and the United States over trade and global influence.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday effectively barred Huawei from the American market amid fears Beijing could spy on communications and gain access to critical infrastructure.

Washington has been pressing allies to keep the Chinese firm out of mobile networks, most recently warning Britain against letting Huawei become involved in its 5G upgrade.