Lawyers for Huawei CFO say she’s Trump bargaining chip

VANCOUVER (AP) – Lawyers for a senior executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei said her extradition hearing should be ended because comments by United States (US) President Donald Trump reduce her to a “pawn in a political-economic contest”.

Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, at Vancouver’s airport in late 2018. The US wants her extradited to face fraud charges. Her arrest infuriated Beijing, which sees her case as a political move designed to prevent China’s rise.

The US accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions. It said Meng committed fraud by misleading the HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

In recent court filing’s, Meng’s lawyers argued the US is using the extradition to secure a trade advantage and said that is undermining the integrity of Canada’s judicial proceedings.

They said the foundation of the judicial process in Canada has been destroyed and request a stay of proceedings for abuse of process.

Pedestrians walk past a Huawei retail shop in Beijing. PHOTO: AP

The filings point to an interview with Trump two weeks after Meng’s arrest in which he was asked if he would become involved in the case if he thought it would secure a trade deal with China.

“I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Trump said. Meanwhile, Meng’s lawyers said the US isn’t interested in justice.

“The president and his administration have no real interest in the merits of the criminal proceeding… but are intent on using her chase as a bargaining chip in a trade dispute,” the filings said.

A key part of the US case against Meng deals with a August 22, 2013, meeting at a Hong Kong restaurant at which she is accused of using a PowerPoint presentation to give misleading information to HSBC executives about Huawei’s relationship with Skycom.

The filings said US officials selectively summarise information from only a few slides and omit “highly relevant information” that was on two slides.

In May, Meng failed in a bid to end the extradition process when a Canadian judge ruled the allegations against her could constitute a crime in Canada as well.

Meng’s arrest has soured relations between Canada and China.

In apparent retaliation, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor.

China has also placed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China, including canola oil seed.

China also handed a death sentence to a convicted Canadian drug smuggler in a sudden retrial.