Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou are calling for a Vancouver court to halt extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive, in legal submissions accusing US President Donald Trump of having “poisoned” the case for political purposes, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of complicity in using Meng as a “bargaining chip”.
“Where the requesting state engages in conduct that offends our Canadian sense of fair play and decency, the court must intervene to safeguard the integrity of the judicial process. This is such a case,” Meng’s lawyers say in their new submissions.
They have filed two applications on separate grounds for the case to be stayed as an abuse of process, asking that Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the British Columbia Supreme Court hear the matters in February 2021. The documents were released late on Thursday.
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
The first application is based on claims of political interference. The supporting arguments by Meng’s lawyers, led by Richard Peck, begin by quoting Trump’s comments from December 12, 2018, 11 days after Meng’s arrest at Vancouver’s airport, in which he said he would “certainly intervene” in Meng’s case if he thought it was good for a trade deal with China.
Those comments have already been much discussed in the ongoing extradition proceedings and preliminary hearings. The US wants Meng extradited from Canada to face trial in New York on bank fraud charges.
But Peck and his colleagues go on to cite instances of Trump’s intervention in other cases to support the argument about his willingness to “leverage her [Meng’s] prosecution for political purposes”.
These include his interventions in the cases involving his friend and political ally Roger Stone, whom he recently pardoned after convictions for witness tampering and lying to investigators, and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“In their initial filing, [US] Department of Justice prosecutors submitted that Mr Stone should be sentenced to seven to 10 years’ imprisonment. President Trump publicly disagreed with that position,” the submission says, citing a Trump tweet in which he calls Stone’s situation a “miscarriage of justice”.
“The very next day, the Department of Justice revised its sentencing position downward, in line with the president’s tweet,” the submission says.
Flynn, meanwhile, had pled guilty to lying to the FBI about communications with Russia’s ambassador to the US. But the Justice Department subsequently decided to drop all charges against Flynn; Trump had pressured the FBI’s former director James Comey to halt the investigation of Flynn, the submission says.
“These two examples show that the requesting state’s president not only thinks he can intervene in prosecutions, but that he will do so when it suits his political agenda,” it says.
The submission goes on to accuse Canadian leader Trudeau of having “communicated to the requesting state that he supports its use of the applicant’s case as a bargaining chip in trade negotiation”.
It cites comments by Trudeau on December 19, 2019. “Trudeau described how he asked the US to include the applicant in any trade deal it signed with China: ‘We’ve said that the United States should not sign a final and complete agreement with China that does not settle the question of Meng Wanzhou and the two Canadians’.”
The “two Canadians” refers to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were detained by China soon after Meng’s arrest and are now accused of espionage by Beijing.
“The prime minister’s statements reinforce how the applicant is caught in a geopolitical battle, not the slightest bit dependent on the merits of her criminal case,” her lawyers say.
“These statements are troubling despite the prime minister’s other public pronouncements that purport to support the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.”
In the second application, Meng’s lawyers say she has suffered an abuse of process, “because
the requesting state has failed to describe the case against the applicant fairly and accurately in the record of the case (ROC) and the supplemental record of the case (SROC).”
It says the US misled the Canadian court about the fraud claims against Meng. These are based on a meeting with an HSBC executive in Hong Kong, in which she allegedly lied about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran and its relationship with a company called Skycom, supposedly putting HSBC at risk of breaching US sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.
“The ROC and SROC omitted material evidence that would establish that [Meng] accurately told HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with Skycom in Iran,” it says. This “misleading” record of the case “disqualifies [the US] from continuing these proceedings”.
Meng is currently under partial house arrest in Vancouver. Her extradition case, which has upended China’s relationships with the US and Canada, is expected to last well into next year, but appeals could extend the process by years more.
Register to the SCMP Conversations: National Security Law webinar series and enjoy an exclusive 20% discount. Over the course of THREE WEBINARS, this series is designed for the global audience and will bring together corporate leaders, lawmakers, diplomats and academics from the East and West to dive deep into answering questions and the concerns of the global audience, while discussing what the law means for the future of Hong Kong and how it will impact global trade, economics and diplomacy. REGISTER NOW.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Huawei pushes court to reveal ‘sensitive’ evidence US lawyers don’t want China to see
- Canada faces new pressure to block Huawei from 5G, after UK ban risks marooning Ottawa from Five Eyes intelligence allies
- Chinese embassy lashes out at Canada over Spavor, Kovrig cases
This article Meng Wanzhou: lawyers seek halt to ‘poisoned’ case, accusing Trump and Trudeau of meddling first appeared on South China Morning Post