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US prosecutors have reached a deal to allow Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou to return home to China in exchange
Ms Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei is the Chinese, has been fighting extradition from Canada to the US since 2018, when she was arrested in Vancouver and placed under 24/7 house arrest.
Known in China as the “princess of Huawei”, she was charged by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) with misleading HSBC bank in order to circumvent US sanctions against Iran, which she denies.
On Friday, however, assistant US attorney David Kessler told a court in New York that the DoJ had agreed to defer prosecution against Ms Meng until December 2022 and drop its attempt to extradite her.
In exchange, Ms Meng signed a statement of facts admitting that she had misled a major bank about Huawei’s dealings with Iran, which can be admitted as evidence in a future trial if she breaks any other part of her agreement.
Acting US attorney Nicole Boeckmann said: “Meng’s admissions confirm the crux of the government’s allegations — that Meng and her fellow Huawei employees engaged in a concerted effort to deceive global financial institutions, the U.S. government and the public about Huawei’s activities in Iran.
“While acting as the Chief Financial Officer for Huawei, Meng made multiple material misrepresentations to a senior executive of a financial institution regarding Huawei’s business operations in Iran in an effort to preserve Huawei’s banking relationship with the financial institution.”
Speaking through a translator from Vancouver, Ms Meng confirmed the deal, while pleading not guilty to the charges.
Ms Meng’s release resolves a major front in the diplomatic and trade war between the US and China, which was started by former President Donald Trump but has continued under President Joe Biden.
US officials have long accused Huawei, a Shenzhen-based telecommunications giant, of using its global clout to spy on other countries for the Chinese government, with which it has a close relationship.
Huawei strenuously denies that, claiming the US is cynically targeting it as a tool of foreign policy. Lawyers for Ms Meng echoed that theme, describing her as a political “bargaining chip”.
After Ms Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadian citizens, businessman Michael Spavor and diplomat Michael Kovrig, who could now have a brighter chance of release.
The US has also been working to persuade allies to renounce Huawei’s highly affordable telecommunications technology, which appears in national phone and internet networks across the world.
The DoJ and Huawei did not respond to requests for comment.