Adviser to US government on foreign investment quits over link to Huawei

Theodore Moran was consultant for Chinese firm while also advising Washington

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 December, 2013, 9:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 December, 2013, 7:14am

A long-time adviser to the US Director of National Intelligence has resigned after the government learned he had worked since 2010 as a paid consultant for Huawei Technologies, the Chinese technology company the US has condemned as an espionage threat.

Theodore Moran, an expert on China's international investment and a professor at Georgetown University, had served since 2007 as an adviser to the intelligence director's advisory panel on foreign investment in the United States. Moran was also an adviser to the National Intelligence Council, a group of analysts and experts who provide US spy agencies with judgments on international issues.

Moran, who had a security clearance granting him access to sensitive materials, was forced to withdraw from those roles after Frank Wolf, a congressman, complained in September to the intelligence director, James Clapper, that Moran's work on an international advisory council for Huawei "compromises his ability to advise your office".

"It is inconceivable how someone serving on Huawei's board would also be allowed to advise the intelligence community on foreign investments in the US," Wolf wrote.

Moran said: "I was totally transparent." He said he told the National Intelligence Council in 2010 about his membership on Huawei's advisory panel.

"I complied with all conflict-of- interest reports and procedures of the National Intelligence Council," Moran said.

A spokesman for Clapper's office confirmed on Friday that Moran was no longer associated with the intelligence council "effective September 2013" but declined to answer further questions, citing the US Privacy Act.

His resignation was also confirmed by Wolf and two federal officials.

"If he wants to make a lot of money advising Huawei, that's his prerogative," Wolf said. "But he shouldn't be on a critical advisory board that provides intelligence advice on foreign investments in our country."

The case highlights the ongoing fractious relationship between the US government and Huawei, China's leading developer of telephone and internet infrastructure, which has been condemned in the US as a potential national security threat. Huawei has disputed this, and its chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, has said the company has decided to abandon the US market.

In a policy paper distributed by Huawei, Moran wrote in May that "targeting one or two companies on the basis of their national origins does nothing for US security in a world of global supply chains".