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Huawei CFO to seek extradition stay, citing Trump comments

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Meng's case has attracted global attention and sparked a diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Ottawa.

Vancouver

HUAWEI'S chief financial officer intends to seek a stay of extradition proceedings in part based on statements by US President Donald Trump about the case, which her lawyers say disqualifies the United States from pursuing the matter in Canada.

CFO Meng Wanzhou, 47, the daughter of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei, was arrested at Vancouver's airport in December on a US warrant and is fighting extradition on charges that she conspired to defraud global banks about Huawei's relationship with a company operating in Iran.

After the arrest, Mr Trump told Reuters that he would intervene in the US case against Meng if it would help close a trade deal with China.

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Meng's defence lawyers said in a document presented to the British Columbia Supreme Court on Wednesday that they intend to apply for the stay of the extradition proceedings based on abuses that go beyond Mr Trump's comments.

The lawyers also claimed that Meng was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated at the airport, with her arrest delayed under the guise of a routine immigration check.

In addition, Meng's counsel argued that there is no evidence that she misrepresented to a bank Huawei's relationship with a company operating in Iran called Skycom, thereby putting the bank at risk of violating US sanctions law, or that the bank relied on her statements to its detriment.

The lawyers claimed that the bank understood the relationship between Huawei and Skycom.

A spokesman for HSBC, which has been identified as the bank, declined to comment.

Huawei has previously said that Skycom was a local business partner in Iran. The United States maintained that it was an unofficial subsidiary used to conceal Huawei's Iran business.

Meng defence lawyer Scott Fenton told the court that during Meng's three-hour detention at the airport in December, her rights "were placed in total suspension".

Speaking in Beijing on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang again demanded Meng's release and return to China.

"The United States and Canada abused their bilateral extradition treaty and took unreasonable compulsory measures against a Chinese citizen, which is a serious violation of the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizen," he said. "This is a serious political incident."

The lawyers also argued that Meng cannot be extradited because the conduct at issue would not be criminal in Canada.

The bank and wire fraud charges do not meet that criteria because Meng is accused of misrepresenting HSBC to engage in transactions that violate US sanctions laws, the lawyers said.

They also note that, under 2019 Canadian sanction law, there would be no risk of fines or forfeiture for any bank in Canada.

"Put another way, the alleged offense could only exist in a country that prohibits international financial transactions in relation to Iran," the lawyers said in court documents. "Canada is no longer such a country."

Meng's lawyers did not say when they would apply for the stay of the extradition hearing, whose date has not been set.

She will next appear in court on Sept 23, when her defence will make more applications for further disclosure surrounding her arrest at the airport. The process could take years.

Meng's case has attracted global attention and sparked a diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Ottawa.

Huawei said in a statement on Wednesday that the criminal case against Meng is based on allegations that are simply not true, adding that the US-ordered arrest was "guided by political considerations and tactics, not by the rule of law".

Huawei and Skycom are also defendants in the US case, accused of bank and wire fraud, as well as violating US sanctions on Iran.

Meng was released from jail in December on C$10 million (S$10.1 million) bail and must wear an electronic ankle bracelet and pay for security guards. She has been living in a Vancouver home that was valued at C$5 million in 2018.

Meng arrived at court on Wednesday wearing an elegant full-length black and gray weave-pattern dress, with the ankle monitor prominently visible. REUTERS

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