Chinese telecommunication corporation Huawei is under fire in China for detaining an ex-employee of 13 years after he demanded severance pay from the company.
Li Hongyuan, the 35-year-old employee, was arrested in January for extortion charges and was kept in detention in Shenzhen, China until his release in August due to lack of evidence, according to Sixth Tone.
In a now-deleted article from Jiemian, Li said he joined Huawei in October 2005 and was asked to resign in January 2018 after he reported his department for allegedly inflating sales figures. He then left in the same month and his negotiations for his severance package continued for weeks until March when he received 300,000 yuan ($42,553) wired from a secretary’s personal bank account.
Li said he did not find the transaction suspicious at the time, but on Dec. 16, 2018, officers broke into his home and arrested him under suspicion of embezzlement. The charges, however, were later changed to blackmail and extortion with the 300,000 yuan he received being used as evidence against him.
Meanwhile, Huawei alleged that Li had threatened to report the department’s manager to the higher-ups of the company from December 2017 to March 2018. He was also accused of demanding 300,000 yuan for hush money.
Li was then released in August after his wife found a 2-hour-long audio recording of him negotiating with Huawei’s HR regarding his severance pay. The recording was then presented as evidence to the procuratorate to prove Li’s innocence.
On Nov. 20, Li was rewarded with 107,522 yuan ($15,251) in compensation for the wrongful detention.
However, on Monday, Huawei posted a statement regarding Li’s case.
“We respect the decisions of the judicial authorities, including the police, the procuratorate, and the court,” the company said in its statement. “If (the former employee) Li Hongyuan thinks his rights and interests have been violated, we encourage him to defend those rights through legal channels, including suing Huawei.”
Before Huawei’s statement on Monday, Li reportedly tried to reach out to the company’s CEO, Ren Zhengfei, via an open letter.
“It wasn’t my intention to cause so much attention online and I am sorry about it. Also, I don’t regret my choice for speaking the truth. There is always a cost to being honest,” Li wrote via The Guardian.
“In regards to my detention, my father was shocked and passed away, and my child was scared. I hope I can take some of your time for a cup of coffee.”