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Updated: December 8, 2013 01:01 IST

U.S. intelligence official resigns following conflict of interest claims

Narayan Lakshman
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This undated handout photo provided by the The Peterson Institute for International Economics shows Theodore H. Moran, a longtime adviser to the U.S. Director of National Intelligence. Mr. Moran has resigned after the government learned he has worked since 2010 on an international advisory council for Huawei Technologies.
AP This undated handout photo provided by the The Peterson Institute for International Economics shows Theodore H. Moran, a longtime adviser to the U.S. Director of National Intelligence. Mr. Moran has resigned after the government learned he has worked since 2010 on an international advisory council for Huawei Technologies.

He was working with as a "paid consultant" for Huawei Technologies, a Chinese technology firm deemed to be an espionage threat by Washington.

A senior adviser to the U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) was reportedly “forced” to resign following revelations that since 2010 he was working with as a “paid consultant” for Huawei Technologies, a Chinese technology firm deemed to be an espionage threat by Washington.

An investigation by the Associated Press found that Theodore Moran, who is said to be a “respected expert” on China's international investment and professor at Georgetown University, had a security clearance granting him access to sensitive materials, although the DNI did not furnish details on Mr. Moran’s duties for its panel on foreign investment and the powerful National Intelligence Council (NIC).

Earlier Frank Wolf, Republican Representative from Virginia, said to DNI James Clapper, that Mr. Moran’s engagement with Huawei “compromises his ability to advise your office”, and “he shouldn't be on a critical advisory board that provides intelligence advice on foreign investments in our country”, in this context.

However, it was apparent that there was more to the story than met the eye given that Mr. Moran, who served at the DNI since 2007 apparently disclosed to NIC in 2010 his membership on Huawei’s advisory panel. “I complied with all conflict of interest reports and procedures of the NIC,” Mr. Moran told AP, adding, “I was totally transparent.”

Last year the U.S. House Intelligence Committee found that Huawei and another firm of Chinese origin, ZTE, may enable Chinese intelligence services to tamper with U.S. communications networks, and recommended that the companies be banned from operating here.

The Committee wrote at the time, “To the extent these companies are influenced by the state or provide Chinese intelligence services access to telecommunication networks, the opportunity exists for further economic and foreign espionage by a foreign nation-state already known to be a major perpetrator of cyber espionage.”

Huawei however was said to have “aggressively disputed” such allegations and its CEO Ren Zhengfei announced that the company “has decided to abandon the U.S. market.”

This week AP quoted Huawei's Vice-President for external affairs, William Plummer, saying that the allegations have created a “political smokescreen,” amounting to a “political game that's holding Huawei hostage to somehow gain leverage with the Chinese government.”

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden held detailed bilateral discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his administration earlier this week, on a host of economic and strategic issues.

Mr. Moran was said to have written in a paper published earlier this year that argued that “targeting one or two companies on the basis of their national origins does nothing for U.S. security in a world of global supply chains.”

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