US warns Germany: Using Huawei could crimp intelligence-sharing between agencies

Minnie Murray
March 14, 2019

The US government has warned Germany that it will restrict sharing intelligence information if Huawei takes part in building the 5G network there, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Most of Europe's security agencies heavily rely on USA intelligence to fight terrorism, and the move of Trump's administration to deny access to the information to Germany is a massive blow against the country's anti-terrorism efforts. Huawei and other Chinese companies have been under fire from the Trump administration following several accusations including allegations of been used by the Chinese government for espionage. A German security official said the situation is more nuanced, noting that the US didn't provide evidence to back up its Huawei warnings. Further, the US likely needs its allies to support the pushback against Huawei in order for the isolation tactic to have any meaningful effect.

According to the newspaper, which had access to the letter, U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell wrote that U.S. Those are Finnish firm Nokia, South Korean outfit Samsung, Chinese firm Huawei, Swedish corporation Ericsson, and American outfit Cisco.

During an appearance on a ZDF television talk show on Thursday, Altmaier said that Germany did not want to ban Huawei but would change its laws to guarantee all components used in the 5G networks are secure.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. had warned Germany about future "information sharing" if it uses "untrusted vendors" in its 5G infrastructure.

"Because 5G networks are largely software-defined, updates pushed to the network by the manufacturer can radically change how they operate", said Garrett Marquis, NSC spokesman.

Altmaier told French news agency AFP he could not comment on the letter's contents, but said that: "We will respond quickly".

The German Economy Ministry confirmed that the letter had been received.

As scrutiny of Huawei has grown, Australiaand New Zealand have joined the barring the company from their 5G networks. But suspicions have increased enough that the company's founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, tried to quash them earlier this year, when he said, "No law requires any company in China to install mandatory backdoors".

Tensions have also run high over the detention of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who is facing possible extradition to the US on allegations she committed financial fraud in the course of allegedly violating worldwide sanctions on Iran.

The US is going too far.

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