(Adds Huawei reaction, Washington Post report)
BARCELONA, Dec 10 (Reuters) – France and Barcelona footballer Antoine Griezmann, who has been an ambassador for tech giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, has cut commercial ties with the company, citing China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.
“I announce that I am putting an end immediately to my partnership linking me with this company,” Griezmann, a 2018 World Cup winner with France, wrote in a statement on Instagram on Thursday.
A Huawei spokesperson said the Chinese company was saddened by Griezmann’s decision.
“We would like to extend an invitation to speak to him personally, to explain the work that is currently being done at the highest level, inside the company, to address the issues of human rights, equality, and discrimination at all levels,” the spokesperson said.
The United Nations estimates that more than a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained in China’s Xinjiang province. China has denied any abuses and says its camps in the region provide vocational training and help fight extremism.
The striker’s decision followed a report here in the Washington Post on Dec. 8 that alleged that Huawei had tested software capable of sending automated alerts when surveillance cameras recognised members of the mainly Muslim minority Uighur group.
The article cited a document that it said was signed by Huawei representatives showing that Huawei had worked with a startup called Megvii to test artificial intelligence capable of triggering an automated “Uighur alarm”.
Commenting on the report on Thursday, Huawei described the language used in the document as “completely unacceptable”, adding however that it was a description of functions provided by Megvii, while the document was approved not by Huawei, but by a subcontractor.
“It is not compatible with the values of Huawei,” the spokesperson said. “Our technologies are not designed to identify ethnic groups. Non-discrimination is at the heart of our values as a company.”
The Washington Post cited Megvii in a response to its original story as saying its systems were not designed to target or label ethnic groups. Read More