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A member of Huawei's reception staff enters a building used for high profile customer visits in Shenzhen, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Huawei employees have helped African governments spy on political opponents in at least 2 instances not disclosed to the public, the Wall Street Journal reports.

What they found: In 2018, Huawei engineers working in Uganda used spyware developed by an Israeli company to infiltrate opposition leader Bobi Wine's WhatsApp, reportedly at the request of a Ugandan cyber-surveillance unit. In Zambia, Huawei technicians "helped the government access the phones and Facebook pages of a team of opposition bloggers running a pro-opposition news site," WSJ reports.

  • WSJ identified the Huawei engineers in Uganda by name after reviewing internal police documents.
  • WSJ spoke with senior security officials in Zambia that identified 2 Huawei technicians by name. Those technicians were reportedly based "in a cyber-surveillance unit in the offices of Zambia’s telecom regulator."

The big picture: The U.S. has repeatedly accused Huawei of acting as an espionage arm of the Chinese government and urged countries not to do business with the company. However, WSJ's investigation "didn’t turn up evidence of spying by or on behalf of Beijing in Africa. Nor did it find that Huawei executives in China knew of, directed or approved the activities described."

The other side: A Huawei spokesman told WSJ in a written statement that the company has “never been engaged in ‘hacking’ activities" and "Huawei rejects completely these unfounded and inaccurate allegations against our business operations.”

Go deeper: Google limits Huawei's access to Android code

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says extremists have discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

3 hours ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).