Huawei CFO returns to court as U.S. pledges greater role in China spat
The U.S. government’s pursuit of Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is part of a strategy to thwart the rise of the Chinese technology company and an abuse of the extradition process, her defense team told a Canadian court Wednesday.
President Joe Biden’s administration, like that of his predecessor Donald Trump, is using Meng’s case to further U.S. foreign policy aims and the extradition request should be dismissed, her lawyers said.
“This campaign is bipartisan and continues in full vigor today,” said Richard Peck, one of Meng’s lawyers.
The 49-year-old executive -- eldest daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei -- was arrested during a stopover at Vancouver’s airport in December 2018. U.S. officials seek her handover on fraud charges, accusing her of misleading banks into handling transactions for Huawei that violated American sanctions.
Shortly after her arrest, Trump said he “would certainly intervene” if it would boost a China trade deal -- the first time that the head of a state requesting extradition had commented on an extradition proceeding, according to Peck.Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co., leaves her home to attend Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Monday, March 1, 2021. Over the next 10 weeks her lawyers plan to present the case they've been building for more than two years, attempting to show there was an abuse of process in her arrest and that she should be released.
Other U.S. officials, including Democrats, have also infringed on the integrity of the legal process and sought to use Meng as a bargaining chip in U.S.-China trade relations, Meng’s lawyers argued.
They pointed to comments by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s advice to U.S. allies to stay away from Huawei at a conference in Munich last year and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comment on Fox News that “any time there is a law enforcement engagement, we need to make sure we take foreign policy considerations into effect.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also cited for conflating political issues with Meng’s case. Within days of her arrest, China detained two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in what was widely seen in the West as retaliation. In late 2019, Trudeau said that the U.S. should not sign a final trade agreement with China until the two men are released. “The two Michaels,” as they’re called in Canadian media, remain imprisoned.
The hearings at the Supreme Court of British Columbia are expected to continue until May. Appeals could lengthen the process significantly. Some Canadian extradition cases have lasted as long as a decade.
The U.S. case is U.S. v. Huawei Technologies Co., 18-cr-457, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).