tuesday, 21 january of 2020


Lawyers for Huawei’s Meng seek to have extradition case dropped: Canadá

Lawyers for Huawei’s chief financial officer told a Canadian courtroom that the US extradition case against the Chinese executive amounted to “fiction” and urged the request be denied because Canada should not be required to enforce US national security goals.

Although Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the Chinese telecom group’s founder, has been charged with bank fraud by US authorities, her attorney Richard Peck said the fraud counts were disingenuous and the case was really about Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

Mr Peck argued Washington’s real goal in seeking the extradition of Ms Meng, who was arrested a year ago while changing planes in Vancouver, is to punish her for violating US sanctions against Iran — sanctions that are not recognised by the Canadian government.

"Sanctions drive this case," Mr Peck said in the first day of Ms Meng’s high-profile extradition case. "Framing this case as fraud is an attempt to obscure the actual goal, which is sanctions."

Ms Meng’s detention in Canada has become the most contentious flashpoint in the global effort by Mr Trump’s White House to combat Huawei’s growing dominance of the next generation of mobile telecommunications technologies, known as 5G. US authorities have argued Beijing can use Huawei equipment to spy on the West.

US officials have insisted that Ms Meng’s arrest is not related to its effort to persuade allies to shun Huawei’s equipment, but the case has squeezed Canadian authorities, who face pressure from both Beijing and Washington over their handling of the case.

Days after Ms Meng’s arrest in December 2018, China jailed two Canadians for espionage — Michael Spavor and Micheal Kovrig — charges that many in Canada say are in retaliation for Ms Meng’s detention. They remain in jail with very restricted access to consular help.

The defence team’s strategy centres around Canadian requirements that bar extradition unless allegations against Ms Meng break both US and Canadian laws.

Although the US has charged Ms Meng with bank fraud — they allege she misled HSBC about Huawei’s ties with a company called Skycom — the underlying case alleges Huawei improperly did business with Iran, which was under US sanctions. Skycom was operating in Iran at the time.

Mr Peck, who addressed a packed 150-seat high-security courtroom in Vancouver, said Canada did not have sanctions against Iran, meaning the case does not meet Canada’s "double criminality" standard.

He said it was “fiction” to suggest the US was interested in an executive deceiving a bank about a loan halfway around the world. "It is the case that the US has a global interest in enforcing US sanctions against Iran globally," he added.

Ms Meng was allowed to move from the prisoner’s box to a table behind her lawyers for the hearing. Behind her, watching through the bulletproof glass and surrounded by several armed sheriffs, sat members of the public along with a couple dozen local and international journalists.

Her case has sparked intense interest — and outrage in China — including protesters outside the court. Some demonstrators supported the Huawei executive, carrying signs that read "Free Ms Meng. Equal Justice", while others were critical of Beijing. One anti-Beijing sign read: “China! Release the 3 million Uyghur Muslims.”

Ms Meng, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, has been under a form of house arrest since posting C$10m bail, but can move around parts of Vancouver under the escort of security guards and must wear an ankle bracelet. She is allowed to live in one of her two Vancouver mansions.

Huawei’s spokesperson in Canada, Benjamin Howes, issued a statement after the hearing began that said the company has “trust in Canada’s judicial system, which will prove Ms Meng’s innocence”.

He added: “Huawei stands with Ms Meng in her pursuit for justice and freedom.”

(Published by Financial Times, January 21, 2020)

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