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Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou say she's Trump bargaining chip

Last Updated Jul 24, 2020 at 8:37 pm PST

In this Jan. 21, 2020, file photo, Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who is out on bail and remains under partial house arrest after she was detained last year at the behest of American authorities, leaves her home to attend a hearing in British Columbia Supreme Court, in Vancouver. New court documents accuse the United States president of "poisoning" the extradition case against Huawei's CFO to further the American trade agenda. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, at Vancouver’s airport in late 2018

The U.S. wants her extradited to face fraud charges

VANCOUVER — Lawyers for a senior executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei say her extradition hearing should be ended because comments by U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It says Meng committed fraud by misleading the HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

In recent court filing’s Meng’s lawyers argue the United States is using the extradition to secure a trade advantage and say that is undermining the integrity of Canada’s judicial proceedings. They say the foundation of the judicial process in Canada has been destroyed and request a stay of proceedings for abuse of process.

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.

Meng’s lawyers say the U.S. 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 say.

A key part of the U.S. case against Meng deals with a Aug. 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.

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.

Meng remains free on bail in Vancouver.