The extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou could not be treated as a “garden-variety” case, because of interference by US President Donald Trump, her lawyer told a Canadian judge on Wednesday as he argued for the admission of new evidence in the case.
The lawyer, Frank Addario, also used an analogy about Meng’s hair colour to suggest that it did not matter whether she had been deceptive during a presentation to an HSBC banker – the basis of the US fraud charges against her.
Addario told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the Supreme Court of British Columbia that she should not be swayed by what he called “boilerplate concerns” about the need for a speedy extradition process that had been raised a day earlier by Robert Frater, a lawyer for Canada’s attorney general representing US interests.
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“You were told there was this long, eye-watering string of cases to dismiss these motions. But this is not a normal garden-variety extradition case,” said Addario, citing alleged intervention in Meng’s prosecution by Trump, who said after her arrest almost two years ago that he might step in to help the US in trade negotiations with China.
Existing extradition case law “is not going to help you”, Addario told Holmes.
Meng returned to court this week to hear her lawyers argue that the case against her should be thrown out because the US had provided the court with a misleading record of the case (ROC). They also want Holmes to admit new evidence they say shows this.
Holmes reserved judgment on the applications and remanded Meng to return to court on October 26. This week’s hearings had been scheduled to last through Friday but wrapped up two days early.
Frater argued on Tuesday that the applications should be “cut off at the knee”. Meng’s lawyers were trying to turn the extradition hearing into a trial, Frater said, telling the judge she should “refuse to waste precious court time on processes that have no hope of success”.
The US wants Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, extradited to New York to face charges that she defrauded HSBC by lying about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, putting the bank at risk of breaching US sanctions on Iran.
Central to the case is a PowerPoint presentation that Meng gave to a HSBC banker in a Hong Kong teahouse in 2013, which the US claims was intended to deceive the bank about Huawei’s relationship with a partner operating in Iran called Skycom.
Meng denies the allegations. Her lawyers argued this week that the ROC is “defective” because it omits parts of the presentation in which Meng described Huawei’s business relationship with Skycom, calling it “normal and controllable business cooperation”.
HSBC was not defrauded, Addario argued, because it must have known after the presentation that both Huawei and Skycom were working in Iran. That was all the bank needed to know to avoid any risk of sanctions, he said, either by vetoing Huawei and Skycom’s transactions, or by processing them outside the US banking system.
“What the United States does include [in the ROC] is fundamentally inaccurate,” and what it omitted was central to the case, Addario said on Wednesday.
Addario contended that it did not matter whether Meng lied to the banker – referred to as “HSBC Witness B” – about the exact connections between Huawei and Skycom, as the US and Frater claim.
He said: “A mere lie, if she’s asked in that meeting, ‘is your hair naturally blonde or naturally brunette’ and she lies about it – it’s not material to US sanctions risk. Even if the [HSBC] risk committee said ‘we are only going to deal with brunettes’ … the only thing material is that they [Huawei and Skycom] are both doing business in Iran.”
In filings, Meng’s team contends that “the evidence that the Requesting State relies on as essential to committal [the ROC] is so unreliable or defective that it should be disregarded”. The remedy, they argue, is that the extradition case be thrown out.
Meng, 48, is a daughter of the telecommunications company’s founder Ren Zhengfei.
She was arrested at Vancouver’s airport on December 1, 2018, on a stopover from Hong Kong, throwing China’s relations with the US and Canada into disarray. Days later, China arrested Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and has charged them with espionage, but their treatment is widely seen in the West as hostage-taking and retaliation for Meng’s arrest.
Meng remains under partial house arrest, wearing a GPS tracker on her ankle and living in one of the two homes she owns in Vancouver. Her extradition proceedings are scheduled to last until next year, but appeals could drag out the process much longer.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou is wasting court’s time with doomed extradition manoeuvres, Canada lawyer says
- US misled Canadian court about its case against Meng Wanzhou so badly she must be freed, say her lawyers
- Canada court rejects Meng Wanzhou’s bid to see documents about arrest that officials fear could damage ties with China
- No clear end to China-Canada relations slide which began with arrest of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou
This article Huawei executive’s extradition is no ‘garden-variety’ case because of Donald Trump, her lawyer says first appeared on South China Morning Post