Tech

Huawei employee wrongfully jailed for 251 days

Huawei is facing backlash after a former employee was wrongfully detained for eight months in China.

Li Hongyuan, who worked for Huawei for 13 years, was arrested over charges of extortion in January, after the company accused him of blackmail.

But prosecutors freed Mr Hongyuan in August, after finding insufficient evidence to back Huawei’s claim.

And the government has awarded him 107,522 yuan (£11,686) in compensation for being wrongfully jailed.

Before leaving Huawei, in March 2018, Mr Hongyuan says, he negotiated an exit package.

Two months later, a Huawei employee deposited 304,742 yuan (£32,951) into Mr Hongyuan’s personal bank account, which Mr Hongyuan told Chinese media outlets had been an end-of-year bonus he had been promised.

Huawei then reported him to the police, who claimed the money transfer had been made in response to his alleged attempt to extort money from the company.

Mr Hongyuan was taken into custody in December 2018 and formally arrested in January.

Following his release after 251 days in custody, Mr Hongyuan’s defence team told CNN their client had never been prosecuted and had instead been awarded government compensation.

In a statement to BBC News, Huawei said it respected the judgement that had been made, while maintaining it had had a “duty” to report its findings to authorities.

“We respect the independence and authority of the criminal justice process to examine and make a lawful, correct judgement,” said the telecoms giant.

“If any one person believes they have suffered damages or had their legal rights infringed, then Huawei fully supports their right to seek satisfaction through the courts.”

The case has caused widespread outrage in China, with Mr Hongyuan receiving an outpouring of support from users on social network Weibo.

In an open letter addressed to the Huawei founder, Ren Zhengfei, the former employee apologised for causing a scandal.

He wrote: “It wasn’t my intention to cause so much attention online and I am sorry about it.

“Also, I don’t regret my choice for speaking the truth. There is always a cost to being honest.”

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