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Huawei CFO back in court fighting U.S. extradition

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will return to a Canadian court Monday for the final phase of the arguments in her U.S. extradition case, which would focus on whether her arrest was politically motivated and if abuses of process occurred during her detainment.

Meng, 49, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is accused by the United States of misleading HSBC about her company’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to violate U.S. sanctions.

She was arrested at Vancouver’s airport in December 2018 on a U.S. warrant and has been living under house arrest in one of the city’s wealthiest neighbourhoods while her case makes its way through Canada’s courts.

Meng’s lawyers allege that abuses of process took place leading up to her arrest and afterward. They claim that statements made by then-President Donald Trump meant her case was politically motivated and would mean she would not receive a fair trial in the United States.

As a result, they demand the extradition case should be overthrown.

Following testimony from Canadian border officials and police officers involved in the case in late 2020, the forthcoming five days of hearings in the British Columbia Supreme Court will focus on Trump’s alleged interference in the case, as well as outstanding issues from witness testimony and other abuses of process arguments.

“When you look at how President Trump politicized the Department of Justice – when you look at the people he chose to pardon – you understand that in his eyes the justice system was a tool to get what he wanted, reward who he wanted, and punish who he wanted,” Alykhan Velshi, vice president of corporate affairs for Huawei Canada, said.

He called Meng’s arrest “a master class in how to violate a person’s rights.”

There was no immediate comment from Canada’s justice department.

With Trump no longer in office, Canadian prosecutors recently filed submissions arguing this allegation is no longer relevant.

“The facts on which it is based – statements by a president no longer in office, about a possible intervention in this case that never occurred, purportedly to achieve a trade deal that has long since been successfully negotiated – have no past, present or prospective impact on these proceedings,” prosecutors said in a filing made public Feb. 18.

Meng’s arrest caused tensions between Beijing and Ottawa, and soon afterward, China detained two Canadians, who continue to have limited access to legal counsel or diplomatic officials.

Meng’s case is scheduled to wrap in May.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton and Sarah Berman; Editing by Denny Thomas and Lisa Shumaker)

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