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Top Huawei official urges US to ease restrictions

The Hill logo The Hill 14/3/2019 Jacqueline Thomsen
a group of people in a room: Top Huawei official urges US to ease restrictions © Getty Top Huawei official urges US to ease restrictions A top executive for Huawei's U.S. branch on Thursday defended the Chinese company against allegations that it poses a national security risk, saying it wants to work with the U.S. to address those concerns.

Andy Purdy, the chief security officer for Huawei USA, told The Hill in an interview that U.S. officials have not indicated a willingness to engage in conversations with the company to discuss cyber concerns.

"At this point, they're not even willing to talk with us about the recognized mechanisms recognized by the U.S. government to address cybersecurity risk," Purdy told The Hill.

He said he would like the U.S. to implement procedures that would effectively weigh the risks of using Huawei technology, instead of imposing harsh restrictions.

"The more we get to have the kind of requirements that are necessary to address the risks from all vendors," Purdy, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cyber official, said. "Once that happens, there's going to be a greater chance that Huawei can participate."

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Huawei is suing the U.S. government over a provision in last year's National Defense Authorization Act that blocks federal agencies and contractors from using the company's equipment.

U.S. policymakers, including members of Congress, have called for more action against Huawei to stop the company's technology from being used in American networks. They argue that the company is a national security risk because it could share intelligence with the Chinese government.

Federal officials have not publicly offered evidence to support those claims, but some Huawei opponents have said that the potential for risk is enough to take action.

The U.S. this year unsealed a pair of indictments against Huawei alleging the world's largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment stole intellectual property from T-Mobile, committed fraud and violated Iranian sanctions.

The company pleaded not guilty in federal court Thursday to charges including bank and wire fraud, as well violating sanctions against Iran, Reuters reported.

The U.S. has urged other countries to distance themselves from Huawei. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the U.S. ambassador to Germany told Berlin that American officials will withhold some intelligence if Germany decides to do business with Huawei.

Purdy noted that other countries, like India, have determined that it's worth using Huawei technology.

"It's all about cost and benefit," he said. "You don't have to take advantage of benefits if you don't want to take the risk. And thankfully we can address the risk."

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