New details have been released in the case of the U.S. government versus Huawei, and they reveal that the U.S. received approval from a secret court to conduct electronic surveillance, in order to gather to evidence.
As the United States government alleges that Huawei is guilty of bank fraud and violating sanctions, prosecutors are now revealing that the U.S. gathered evidence by conducting electronic surveillance of the Chinese tech firm.
The government notified Huawei in a court filing of its intent to use the information, saying it was obtained or derived from electronic surveillance and physical search. But no specific details were included.
During a federal court hearing in Brooklyn on Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Solomon said that the information would require classified handling. He also revealed that in order to go after Huawei, the government used the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in which it received approval from a secret court to conduct electronic surveillance.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice announced a series of charges against Huawei and the company’s chief financial officer. In a criminal indictment, the DOJ alleged that Huawei violated U.S. sanctions and defrauded at least four banks by concealing business dealings in Iran.
Huawei’s CFO, who is also the daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested in Vancouver in December, after the Canadian government complied with requests from the U.S. She is currently facing charges of bank and wire fraud, and she is fighting extradition to the United States. Canada has agreed to move forward with the extradition process, and the first hearing in the case is set to be held before the Supreme Court of British Columbia in May.
The practice of going through a FISA court is often used by the government to justify conducting electronic surveillance of what it refers to as foreign spies inside the US. But it is also used to spy on American citizens.
The ACLU has filed three motions asking FISA courts to release secret opinions authorizing surveillance measures, arguing that, “The public has a right to see the legal interpretations justifying novel surveillance programs that affect our privacy and free speech rights—but many of the judicial opinions sanctioning this surveillance have remained closely guarded secrets.”
The next court hearing in the case against Huawei is set to be held on June 19. But for now, as with the majority of cases involving U.S. government surveillance approved in secret, we still don’t know what information the U.S. has on Huawei, what methods were used to obtain it, and what claims were made to justify the surveillance.