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Meng Wanzhou might admit wrongdoing to end extradition saga: reports

Last Updated Dec 4, 2020 at 9:05 am PDT

FILE -- Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, leaves her home to attend a hearing at B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Summary

Two news outlets suggest the Huawei executive is poised to plead guilty, avoiding extradition

Meng is wanted on bank fraud charges in the U.S. but is under house arrest in Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO who has been under house arrest in Vancouver for almost two years, might be prepared to offer up a guilty plea.

Both Reuters and the Wall Street Journal report the US Justice Department has been in talks with Meng’s lawyers in recent weeks.

Neither outlet is identifying who their sources are, but they say the people interviewed for their stories are familiar with the case.

Meng is two years into an extradition process. She’s wanted in the U.S. for bank fraud that is alleged to have occurred while Huawei conducted business with Iran, in contravention of US sanctions.

Meng was arrested in December of 2018, while she had a stopover in Vancouver on her way from Hong Kong to Latin America. A deferred prosecution agreement would effectively end the extradition hearings, and Meng would be sent home to China.

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Former Canadian ambassador to China Guy St. Jacques says he’s a bit surprised, but thinks a deal must be on the horizon if people close to the negotiations are speaking with reporters.

“The fact this article came out now is an indication that the discussions have been progressing,” says St. Jacques, who held the post in China from 2012 to 2016. He figures attempts at such an agreement were probably ongoing.

“I think Mrs. Meng was pretty stubborn on this and refused to accept any guilt and her father was opposed to any deal,” he says. Meng’s father is Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei.

St. Jacques believes China was likely getting tired of the bad publicity the whole affair was generating — particularly because it was so strongly linked to the detention of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in China.

“China has come to the conclusion that its image has been tarnished. It was not expecting that Canada would reach out to allies and that those allies would plead for the release of the two Michaels.”

Spavor and Kovrig were arrested and detained within days of Meng’s arrest. They’ve been charged with spying, but the Canadian government has been vocal in characterizing their arrest as retribution for Meng’s arrest.

The two Canadians have had sporadic contact with the current Canadian ambassador to China. They had virtual meetings in November and in October, but had gone nine months prior to those fall meetings without any contact.

The two were charged eighteen months after they were detained.

St. Jacques says China usually keeps to strict timetables when it comes to charges and subsequent trials, but notes none of them have been followed for the two Michaels.

“After a certain time, your trial is supposed to start. All of those deadlines have been missed and I assume they were missed because the Chinese government knew there were (deferred prosecution agreement) discussions that were going on.”

He has his fingers crossed that Mrs. Meng’s release includes the fate of the two Michaels. “I hope this is a package deal.”

As for China-Canada relations going forward, if in fact the Michaels are released?

“I think there will be ill-feelings, especially seeing how brutal they can treat innocent people. We see what’s happening in Hong Kong and in the South China Sea. What this calls for is a reassessment of the engagement strategy. We need to forge an alliance on the US to put more pressure on China to stop its bullying tactics.”