Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. sued the U.S. over the seizure of telecommunications equipment by American officials who were investigating whether the gear required an export license to leave the country.
Huawei, China’s largest smartphone maker, said it’s been waiting for nearly two years for a decision by the U.S. Commerce Department on whether the unspecified equipment can be moved back to China. The hardware had been in the U.S. for testing, according to the company’s lawsuit.
“Defendants have neither made a licensing determination for the equipment nor even indicated” when that call will be made, according to the suit, which was filed Friday in federal court in Washington. “They have instead simply left the equipment in limbo.”
The withheld gear is another point of dispute between Huawei and the U.S. government, which have been at loggerheads for months over claims that the company defrauded at least four banks by concealing business dealings in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. The U.S. blacklisted Huawei last month, blocking it from buying U.S. software and components.
Huawei’s lawyers said the equipment was sent to a California lab for testing in July 2017. The gear was under the control of executives of Huawei’s U.S. unit. On its way back to China, the hardware was seized in Alaska while officials checked to see whether it needed an export license.
The Chinese firm said it provided all requested information about the equipment, which at the time of shipment didn’t require a license under the U.S.’s Export Administration Regulations, according to the suit.
Commerce officials have sat on their hands for 20 months and not made a decision on the licensing issue, Huawei’s lawyers said. Huawei is asking a judge to find that the Trump administration “unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed agency action” on the seized equipment.