Former Huawei Employee Spends 251 Days in Prison on Bogus Extortion Charges

Several days ago news surfaced detailing a story of a former Huawei employee who was detained for extortion in late 2018 after demanding that the company pay him a contract termination compensation of roughly 300,000 yuan for over 13 years of service.

Li Hongyuan joined the telecom giant in 2005 and left in January 2018 after negotiating a termination compensation of 331,576 yuan, which after taxes would amount to nearly 300,000 yuan. In March 2018, the secretary of Li’s department transferred 304,742 yuan to him through a private account instead of a corporate one. Li claims that after further inquiry he learnt that it was a standard procedure and that at least five of his former colleagues received their compensation in a similar way. However, it seems that use of a private bank account raised suspicion about the nature of the transfer.

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On December 16, 2018, Li Hongyuan was detained by the Shenzhen Public Security Bureau on suspicion of extortion and was arrested on January 22, 2019. He was released on August 23, 2019 due to “unclear criminal facts and insufficient evidence”, having spent a total of 251 days in custody.

The case became public on November 30, when Li Hongyuan posted a message on the website of Huawei’s Xinsheng Community, titled “An Open Letter to President Ren”. The event prompted speculations on the Chinese internet over allegations that the employee could have been framed by his former managers, who were unhappy with the amount of compensation he demanded. Many details of the case are still unknown, as Huawei has not provided any comments so far, and Li Hongyuan’s story is the only publicly available information.

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