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Huawei tells US to "put up or shut up" as ex CIA boss says firm has spied for Chinese government

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has told the US government to "put up or shut up" over claims that the company spies for the Chinese government.

The comment was first made by William Plummer, Huawei's vice president of external affairs, in response to accusations made by the former CIA and NSA head, Michael Hayden, that he knows of hard evidence that espionage has taken place.

Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, Hayden said that Huawei, the biggest telecoms technology manufacturer in the world, had "shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with."

"I think that goes without saying," he added, but did not detail any evidence.

Speaking to Chinese online media company, Sina, Plummer called the allegations defamatory and discriminatory.

His comments were echoed in a statement made by the company's Global Cyber Security Officer, John Suffolk.

"Huawei meets the communication needs of more than a third of the planet and our customers have the right to know what these unsubstantiated concerns are," he told Reuters. "It's time to put up or shut up."

Also responding to the accusations, company spokesperson Scott Sykes said that Huawei is a "proven and trusted" information and communications technology producer.

"These tired, unsubstantiated, defamatory remarks are sad distractions from real-world concerns related to espionage, industrial and otherwise," he told Bloomberg in an emailed statement.

Interestingly, Hayden is now a director of Huawei competitor Motorola Solutions. The two have previously been engaged in a long standing intellectual property dispute.

The latest round of accusations and rebuffs comes as the UK government is set to review Huawei's cyber-security practices (opens in new tab), after questions were raised by a Intelligence and Security Committee report.

Last year a US congress committee said it wants Huawei shut out of the US market completely (opens in new tab) over security concerns.

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Tomas is co-founder of Lucky Pilgrim, a team of journalists, photographers and art directors who connect brands to audiences through words, imagery and design. He was formerly editorial director at Chapel and managing editor at Courier magazine, and was a writer for ITProPortal as well as The Independent, EastLondonLines, The Sunday Times Magazine, and Croon.