Swedish court to hear Huawei’s case against 5G ban

On Wednesday, the administrative court in Stockholm began hearing arguments in the case concerning the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency (PTS)s decision to ban Huawei’s products from being used in the expansion of the 5G network, local media Aftonbladet reports.

The announcement from PTS came in October last year just weeks before the auction of the Swedish 5G frequencies was to be carried out, and was based on a recommendation from the Swedish Security Service (Säpo) and the Armed Forces. They believe that Chinese Huawei is unreliable as a supplier because China engages in espionage and because Chinese companies are required to report to the authorities.

The hearing was covered by journalists from state-owned China Central Television and Huawei began its case in court by stating, “Huawei is a serious company that would never risk the entire company’s existence by acting illegally and participating in espionage.” The statement was made by Huawei’s representative Henrik Bengtsson and he also described that PTS’s decision had come as a shock to Huawei and to suppliers who had planned to roll out 5G with the help of Huawei’s products. 

Huawei also stated that the risk assessment is incorrect, the company is private and the state of China has no influence. Quoting a legal statement carried out by a Swedish and a Chinese law firm, Henrik Bengtsson concluded that China’s law does not give the country the power to order companies in or outside China, or its employees, to spy. It would also mean an “incredible risk” for Huawei to engage in such things, Henrik Bengtsson said.

Kevin Curran, a professor of cybersecurity who was called as a witness by Huawei also said that it can not be established that Huawei’s connections with the Chinese state mean that the company handles China’s affairs.

Karolina Asp, General Counsel at PTS, maintained, however, that they rely on the assessment from Säpo and the defense. “Their assessment states if we allow equipment from Huawei, we build a risk latent into the 5G network. We can not add risk and wait for something to happen, once a situation arises, it will be too late to act upon it,” Karolina Asp said.

In addition, PTS did not inform Huawei about the decision to which Henrik Bengtsson stated, “We claim that PTS through its decision has taken the most central legal protection an individual company has away from Huawei – namely the right to be heard, the right not to be accused without the opportunity to defend itself.” 

The authority however did not consider itself obliged to communicate with Huawei and Per Andersson, PTS”s lawyer stated, “PTS has complied with the provisions of the Public Administration Act and communicated material with the parties. The parties, in this case, are the applicant operators, Huawei is not a party to PTS’s allocation case.”

The hearing continues with testimonies from, among others, Säpo and ends on Friday 23 April.

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