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US case against Huawei exec only ‘China’s concern’: defence

(In this file photo taken on March 1, 2021 Huawei Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, leaves her Vancouver home to attend British Columbia Supreme Court, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was dealt another legal setback on March 23, 2021 when a Canadian extradition judge refused to hear from the telecom giant’s accountant on loans at the heart of US bank fraud charges. Photo: AFP)

VANCOUVER, (AFP):- Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer, argued Monday that the US conspiracy and fraud charges against her are only a “concern of China” and unrelated to the United States.

Extraditing Meng from Canada would undermine Chinese sovereignty in international law, they said.

Referring to allegations that Meng lied to HSBC bank during a 2013 presentation about a Huawei subsidiary’s activities in Iran — the pillar of the US prosecution and extradition request — defense lawyer Gib van Ert said the meeting was in China and should not concern the United States or Canada.

“If any laws were broken that day, that’s the concern of China in whose territory the events occurred,” van Ert, a new member of Meng’s legal team, told a Canadian court.

“What happened on August 22, 2013 in a Hong Kong restaurant between a Chinese national and an Anglo-Chinese bank is — as a matter of international law — no business of the US.”

The newest line of attack in Meng’s bid to avoid extradition to the United States comes just one week after Ottawa and Washington imposed economic sanctions against senior Chinese government officials, escalating already heightened international tensions.

The United States alleges Meng misled HSBC by distancing Huawei Technologies from subsidiary Skycom regarding its activities in Iran in breach of US sanctions.

Meng and Huawei deny any wrongdoing.

Van Ert also said Meng is suffering “personal and real” consequences of being “marooned in a foreign country,” and warned the Canadian judge she would drag Canada into American violations of international law if she sends Meng to the United States.

“The consequences for that violation for Ms. Meng are personal and real,” van Ert said. “She has spent two years of her life and counting marooned in a foreign country, far from home, friends and her ordinary life.

“All that is done is quite stark violation of basic principles of international law; if Canada assists in extraditing Ms. Meng to the US, it will itself violate international law.”

Meng has been under supervision and nightly curfew in her US$11-million Vancouver mansion since her December 2018 arrest.

Canada’s attorney general responded to the allegations of international law violations in a court filing.

“Questions of a requesting state’s jurisdiction to prosecute are primarily for the courts of the foreign state,” Canadian lawyers wrote in February 24 court filings. “The Applicant cannot establish an abuse.”

China’s foreign ministry lashed out at Canada’s sanctions, retaliating with its own against Canadian officials.

“The Chinese government is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests,” a Chinese spokesman said March 22.

Earlier this month, China held trials for two Canadians jailed days after Meng’s arrest, plunging diplomatic relations into crisis.

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