The U.S. Department of State said on Wednesday it is investigating Huawei Technologies for allegedly providing censorship and mobile phone tracking technology to Iran, following a request from six U.S. lawmakers.
The Department of State “shares the concern of any potential export of technology to Iran that is to be used specifically to disrupt, monitor or suppress communication of the people of Iran,” said department spokeswoman Beth Gosselin in an email.
The allegations arose after The Wall Street Journal published a report in October linking Huawei’s export of technology to Iran with the country’s suppression of dissidents using mobile phone tracking technology.
Following the report, six U.S. lawmakers asked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December to investigate Huawei for possibly violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. Under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA), passed in 2010, the U.S. government will not enter into contracts with companies that export sensitive technology to the country.
“This is a complex process and may take some time,” Gosselin said. “If we assess that a company has engaged in the kind of activity sanctionable under CISADA, we will take appropriate action.”
Huawei, based in Shenzhen, China, has said the company’s business has been in strict compliance with all relevant international and local laws. “Unfortunately, a few members of Congress continue to cite inaccurate media reports that include groundless allegations and inaccuracies,” the company said in a statement.
Huawei has said it’s business activities have been “grossly misrepresented” in Iran, adding that the company has never been involved with tracking or censorship technology, according to an earlier company statement issued after The Wall Street Journal’s report.
In December, the company announced it would restrict its business activities in Iran and no longer seek new customers, citing the “increasingly complex situation” in the country.