Huawei executive to press case for her release

VANCOUVER • Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and her lawyers were to return to a Canadian court yesterday to press for her release, arguing that the US misled Canada about her alleged crimes to secure her detention on foreign soil.

The defence, according to court filings, will say that the crux of the US charges against Meng - that she hid Huawei's ties with former subsidiary Skycom in Iran from HSBC bank - is false and lacks context.

"Putting such a misleading and incomplete record before this court disqualifies it from continuing these proceedings," the filing says.

The Chinese telecom giant's chief financial officer was arrested on a US warrant in December 2018 during a stopover in Vancouver. She is charged with bank fraud linked to violations of US sanctions against Iran, and has been fighting extradition ever since.

The case has added to severe strain in Sino-US ties and created an unprecedented rift between Canada and China.

Nine days after Meng's arrest, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor in what is widely viewed as retaliation. Espionage charges were filed against the pair in June.

The past nearly two years of court appearances have so far seen Meng's attorneys trade barbs with Canadian government lawyers over access to classified documents.

The defence also accused US and Canadian authorities of having conspired to gather evidence and interrogate Meng without a lawyer after she disembarked from a Hong Kong flight but before she was charged, in violation of her rights.

Canada, they noted, provided serial numbers and technical specifications of her smartphones, tablet and laptop computer to the FBI.

"The Attorney-General of Canada doesn't accept there was any conspiracy to deprive Ms Meng of her rights," Crown counsel Robert Frater said in July.

At Meng's last hearing, in mid-August, her lawyers said they expected her to appear in person yesterday for the first time in months.

US indictments allege that Meng and the world's largest telecoms equipment manufacturer conducted business in Iran in violation of US sanctions through Skycom.

The US Justice Department says the Hong Kong-registered firm was a Huawei front firm. They note that Skycom's leadership were Huawei staff - including Meng, who has admitted to serving on its board.

Huawei also at one point owned a stake in Skycom but sold its shares to another firm that the US says was also controlled by Huawei.

The US alleges Meng fraudulently concealed all this from HSBC, putting the bank at risk of unknowingly violating Iran sanctions.

It pointed to a presentation Meng made in 2013 to an HSBC executive after the British banking group, worried over potential Iran exposure, requested an explanation.

But Meng, 48, insists she was upfront with the HSBC executive.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, has said Skycom was merely a "business partner" in Iran and that Huawei's dealings there did not violate global standards or US law.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2020, with the headline 'Huawei executive to press case for her release'. Print Edition | Subscribe