Tue, 13 Apr 2021

VANCOUVER, Canada: Lawyers for Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou have sought a dismissal of the extradition case against her, citing former U.S. President Donald Trump's comments about intervening in the case if it helped him extract a better trade deal from China.

"With that utterance, Ms. Meng became a bargaining chip in this economic contest between these two superpowers," said Meng's defence lawyer Richard Peck, as quoted by Reuters.

"Our contention is that his words amount to an abuse of process," he added.

Accusing Trump of political interference, Meng's lawyers also said his comments indicated she would not get a fair trial in the United States.

Peck said the politicization of the case was evident from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with then-foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland, jumping into the debate.

To support this claim, defense lawyer Mona Duckett cited comments made by Trudeau in December 2019, urging the United States to not sign a final trade agreement without looking into the detention of two Canadians in China, following Meng's arrest.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, is accused of misleading HSBC Bank about Huawei Technologies' business dealings in Iran, leading to the bank potentially violating US sanctions - a charge she has denied.

Meng was arrested in December 2018 at Canada's Vancouver International Airport, based upon a US warrant for bank fraud.

Trump's comments on the case came 10 days later, during an interview with Reuters.

Following Meng's arrest, diplomatic relations between China and Canada soured, with China detaining two Canadians on espionage charges.

Refuting the charge that the arrests were linked to Meng's case, China's ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, has asked Canada to move quickly to release Meng and help restore diplomatic relations.

However, Trudeau said that at the time of the Canadian's arrests, Chinese officials made it clear that the detentions were in response to Meng's arrest.

Commenting on the case and the ensuing diplomatic conflict, US President Joe Biden said last month that "human beings are not bargaining chips".

However, Peck said Biden's remarks cannot undo the damage done by Trump's comments.

Meanwhile, Canadian prosecutors argued that Trump's statements are no longer relevant since he is no longer in office and the trade deal has been completed.

Defence lawyer Isabel Schurman countered that the fact that the person holding the office of U.S. president has changed is "irrelevant" to the case.

Hearings on Meng's extradition are scheduled to be completed in May.

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