US hands back Huawei equipment it seized two years ago

US hands back Huawei equipment it seized two years ago

12 September 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Huawei has dropped a court action against the US after US authorities returned equipment that was seized two years ago.

The Chinese company started legal action three months ago against the US Department of Commerce (DoC) and other agencies – but that has now been dropped.

Song Liuping (pictured), Huawei’s chief legal officer, said: “Arbitrary and unlawful government actions like this – detaining property without cause or explanation – should serve as a cautionary tale for all companies doing normal business in the US, and should be subject to legal constraints.”

Song said that Huawei had won a de facto victory despite its voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit, but added that it is still disappointed by the fact that the US government has failed to provide any explanation for unlawfully withholding Huawei equipment for so long.

Huawei made the equipment – computer servers, Ethernet switches, and other telecommunications gear – and shipped it to the US for testing and certification at a laboratory in California in September 2017. The US seized the equipment in transit.

Huawei said it views the decision to return the gear as “a tacit admission that the seizure was unlawful and arbitrary”.

The company said the “US government’s prolonged and unexplained failure to determine whether the equipment could be shipped to China without an export licence … violated the Constitution and the Administrative Procedures Act, among others”.

Huawei has asked why the DoC detained the equipment in 2017, why it decided to release it now, “and why it took almost two years to recognise that the equipment’s detention was not justified”, said Huawei – but it has not received an answer.