Trump accused of ‘political interference’ in case of Huawei executive held in Canada

Oliver O'Connell
·2 min read
Canada China US Huawei (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Canada China US Huawei (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Donald Trump’s comments about intervening in the case of a Huawei executive to get a better trade deal with China are being cited by lawyers as a reason to have her extradition case dismissed.

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecoms giant, is accused of misleading HSBC about the company’s business dealings in Iran, which would put the bank in danger of violating US sanctions.

She was arrested under a US warrant for bank fraud at Vancouver International Airport in Canada in early December 2018.

Ms Meng has since been fighting extradition to the US while living under house arrest in Vancouver, British Columbia. She maintains her innocence.

The former president’s alleged political interference and violation of her legal rights have now been presented as reasons by her lawyers that Ms Meng’s extradition case should be thrown out.

Mr Trump made his comments about the case in an interview with Reuters just 10 days after her arrest as he contemplated trade negotiations with China.

“If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security, I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Mr Trump is reported to have said.

“With that utterance, Ms Meng became a bargaining chip in this economic contest between these two superpowers,” said Richard Peck, her defence lawyer.

“Our contention is that his words amount to an abuse of process.”

Referring to the comments as “abhorrent”, Mr Peck said that Mr Trump “co-opted the extradition process in an attempt to leverage Ms Meng and her extradition status”.

“These words cast a pall over these proceedings … They reduce Ms Meng from a human being to a chattel,” Mr Peck said.

However, prosecutors in Canada argue that as Mr Trump has left office and the trade deal has been signed, his statements are no longer relevant to the case.

The arrest of Ms Meng led to a diplomatic rift between Ottawa and Beijing that saw China then detain two Canadian citizens on espionage charges.

Canada sees the detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig as direct retaliation.

China’s ambassador to Canada said in a video press conference on Twitter on Wednesday that Ottawa could restore relations between the two countries by quickly releasing Ms Meng.

Cong Peiwu repeated China’s claim that the arrest of Mr Spavor and Mr Kovrig was not linked to the Ms Meng’s case.

Hearings in the case are expected to conclude in May.

With reporting from Reuters

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