French football star (Antoine Griezmann) said that he terminated his contract with Huawei after allegations that the Chinese telecommunications company was involved in spying on Uyghur Muslims.
A recent report claimed that Huawei had tested a facial recognition program that could help police discover Uighurs.
Huawei vehemently denied these allegations, and told the BBC that it was “sad” about Griezmann’s decision.
China faced a barrage of criticism for its treatment of the minority.
The Chinese government is believed to have detained up to a million Uighurs in Xinjiang in what the state describes as “re-education camps.” Beijing has consistently denied abuse, and says the camps are designed to eliminate terrorism and improve job opportunities.
Griezmann, 29, has been a brand ambassador for Huawei since 2017 and has been featured in the company’s ads in France.
“After strong suspicions that Huawei has contributed to the development of the ‘Uyghur Alert’ by using facial recognition software, I immediately end our partnership with the company,” Griezmann said on his Instagram account.
In a report on Tuesday, the US-based surveillance research firm IPVM said Huawei had participated in testing a facial recognition program in China that authorities could use to detect Uighurs.
IPVM said it had obtained documents that allegedly showed that Huawei tested software from Chinese company Megvii in its cloud video system in 2018. Megvii is known for its facial recognition algorithms.
A company spokesman told the BBC: “The language used in the document” referred to in the report is “totally unacceptable”. He added, “It is inconsistent with Huawei’s values. Because our technologies are not designed to identify ethnic groups, non-discrimination is at the core of our values as a company. ”
“Huawei is clearly sorry for Mr. Griezmann’s decision to end his relationship with the company,” a Huawei spokesman said in Griezmann’s post. He added: “We would like to extend an invitation to speak with him personally, to explain that work is currently underway at the highest level within the company to address issues of human rights, equality and discrimination at all levels, and we assure him and all of our customers and partners that Huawei takes these concerns seriously.”