French World Cup-winning soccer star Antoine Griezmann has ended his affiliation with Huawei, saying there are “strong suspicions” that the Chinese tech giant has contributed to the repression of the mostly Muslim minority Uighurs.
The 29-year-old Barcelona forward’s announcement on Thursday followed media reports that Huawei has tested facial recognition software intended to help China’s surveillance of the group.
“Following strong suspicions that the Huawei company has contributed to the development of a ‘Uighur alert’ thanks to facial recognition software, I am announcing the immediate termination of my partnership with the company,” Griezmann said in an Instagram post.
“I take this opportunity to invite Huawei to not just deny these accusations but to take concrete actions as quickly as possible to condemn this mass repression, and to use its influence to contribute to the respect of human and women’s rights in society.”
Griezmann, a World Cup winner with France, was a global brand ambassador for Huawei and has appeared in advertisements promoting the company’s smartphones.
An AP investigation found that the Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.
Huawei, China’s first global tech brand and the biggest maker of switching equipment used by phone and internet companies, is at the centre of US-Chinese tension over technology, security and spying.