Huawei has been dealt another blow in its ongoing dispute with the U.S. government following recent reports that U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly has sided with prosecutors to restrict access to evidence in an unresolved case against it.
The rules mean that a portion of the evidence can only be seen by defense lawyers who are citizens of the country. At least some of it cannot be viewed by anybody outside of Huawei's legal representation, prosecutors, and others with proper authority. Furthermore, a not-insignificant amount of the evidence is only viewable if the attorneys in question are present.
In fact, the documents presenting the evidence are not stored on computers except where those are disconnected from the web, and restrictions are in place to prevent those from being moved elsewhere even in their physical form. Foreign nationals can view the evidence under certain conditions in order to ensure that the company cannot claim foul play, while any evidence viewed outside of the country requires proceedings to gain access and the presence of lawyers from within the country.
None of that allows the evidence in question to be shared directly with Huawei in any form and any disputes are set to be handled by government attorneys not involved in the case directly.
The restrictions are said to primarily apply to evidence containing information that could endanger 'national security' or lead to risk for or the compromising of potential witnesses in the ongoing case. Information deemed more sensitive than that will require further restrictions and separate processes to be viewed.
A parallel to other actions against the company's defense
The long-running allegations themselves center around purported violations of sanctions against Iran and bank fraud and, although separate, tie in with another pending case involving Huawei CFO — and daughter of the company's founder — Meng Wanzhou. The executive has been charged with similar crimes against the U.S., with allegations specifically claiming that she moved to involve banks unknowingly in the company's violations of the above-mentioned sanctions.
Prosecutors have argued since early on that concerns about whether or not Huawei has deep ties to and might spy for the Chinese government should result in limitations to the amount of evidence the company can access. They've gone further in the case of the company's CFO, as Meng Wanzhou continues to fight extradition to the U.S. from Canada, where she is currently being held on house arrest.
Specifically, the government's attorneys have moved to block the executives lead attorney, James Cole, from the case. Prosecutors cite a conflict of interest due to Mr. Cole's previous role as a Deputy Attorney General in the country — a role he left behind in 2015. Alongside the implementation of the new rules, a hearing has been granted in that matter and scheduled for September 4.
Huawei's representatives have, amid the ongoing turmoil surrounding the handling of 'sensitive' information, moved to pass over some information and evidence from the case against the company to attorney's for Ms. Meng. The executive would need to adhere to standing rules against her viewing the evidence without further proceedings.
Not even the beginning of Huawei's trouble
While this case has serious implications for the Chinese leader in mobile devices and the global leader in networking technology, it is not at all the largest of the company's problems. Following an executive order that officially blacklisted Huawei in the U.S. and ultimately led in a temporary license to operate in cooperation with U.S. companies, the company has reported that it could lose its growth potential over the next two years.
It had estimated that it could overtake Samsung as the world's top mobile company in fairly short order prior to the allegations.
The executive order cited the ongoing case against Huawei's executive and other concerns expressed in the order, claiming that Huawei is a government entity and threat to national security is in part behind orders preventing Huawei from accessing evidence against itself or its CFO.