US prosecutors have filed charges against a Chinese professor who allegedly stole technology from a Silicon Valley firm to give to Huawei.
According to the complaint, Bo Mao entered into an agreement with an unnamed California tech company to obtain its circuit board, claiming it was for academic research.
But prosecutors have accused an unidentified Chinese telecoms group of trying to steal the technology, saying Mao was complicit in the plan.
Sources told Reuters the Chinese company in question was Huawei, while court documents also indicate the case is related to the embattled tech firm.
Mao was arrested in Texas last month, before being released on $100,000 (£82,000) bail. He has since pleaded not guilty at a New York court to charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud.
The case marks the latest run-in between Huawei and US President Donald Trump’s administration, which has accused the Chinese firm of spying.
Huawei has denied the allegations and accused the US of launching a smear campaign against it. Last week the company ramped up the rhetoric, accusing US authorities of threatening its staff and carrying out cyber attacks against its computer system.
Mao, an associate professor at Xiamen University in China and a visiting professor at a Texas university last year, first gained attention as part of a civil case between Huawei and Silicon Valley startup Cnex Labs.
In 2017 Huawei sued Cnex for stealing trade secrets. As part of its counterclaims, Cnex said Mao had asked for one of its circuit boards, which he used for a study linked to Huawei.
The dispute ended without any damages, but US prosecutors have now revived the case.
While Huawei itself has not been charged, the company described the case against Mao as “selective prosecution”.
“US federal prosecutors are charging forward with Cnex’s allegations” despite the outcome of the civil case, a Huawei spokesman said in a statement, adding that prosecutors had shown no interest in Huawei’s claims against Cnex.
Huawei is currently facing an investigation by the US Department of Justice over accusations it stole a smartphone camera patent from a Portuguese inventor.
The Chinese firm has also denied these allegations, saying Rui Pedro Oliveira was “taking advantage of the current geopolitical situation”.
Main image credit: Getty