The Australian Department of Defence denies it has banned all Lenovo computer equipment from secret and top secret networks across defence and intelligence organisations in Australia.
The ban has been in place since the mid-2000s, The Australian Financial Review reported on Saturday, quoting unnamed sources within the defence and intelligence agencies. It was needed due to the Beijing-based company's close ties to the government and the equipment's potential vulnerabilities to hacking, the Review said.
A representative for Australia's defence department disputed the report when contacted by South China Morning Post yesterday.
The department issued a release a few hours later on their website: "This reporting is factually incorrect. There is no Department of Defence ban on the Lenovo Company or their computer products; either for classified or unclassified systems."
Regarding Lenovo's ties to the Chinese government, the representative said: "Defence does not speculate on the associations of private enterprises".
When asked about the matter, Australian foreign minister Bob Carr, on a visit to Hong Kong, said: "Australia will make decisions from time to time as any nation does, based on security and intelligence."
The Review put the ban allegations to the department, which took two days to respond, a reporter for the newspaper said. The department did not deny the ban. Instead, they replied that there "has never been a request to defence to accredit Lenovo products for the top secret and secret networks".
The Review stands by the story, "which was the result of weeks and months of research", the journalist who wrote it said. He said he reconfirmed the claims with his sources following the department's denial.