In Huawei extradition case, arguments wrap up about alleged U.S. international law violation



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is seen at the IFA consumer technology fair, in Berlin

By Sarah Berman and Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – A branch of arguments in Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s bid to stop her extradition to the United States from Canada ended on Thursday with a prosecutor saying her lawyers had an “impoverished” view of the facts over their assertion U.S. authorities violated international law.

Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 on a U.S. warrant for bank fraud. She is accused of misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, putting the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions.

Meng has maintained she is innocent of the charges and is fighting the extradition while under house arrest in Vancouver. Her legal team is seeking a stay of proceedings, citing abuses of process.

The British Columbia Supreme Court judge has already heard arguments that alleged rights violations during Meng’s arrest and political interference by former U.S. President Donald Trump should invalidate the extradition and allow Meng to return to China.

This week Meng’s legal team made submissions that the U.S. indictment itself violated international law because the misleading statements at the heart of the case did not have a substantial enough connection to the United States.

Canadian prosecutor Robert Frater urged the judge to reject that argument, saying it should be up to Canada’s minister of foreign affairs to make decisions about U.S. jurisdiction.

He said the argument denied important context, and was based on an “impoverished” interpretation of the facts of the case.

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“The lies in Hong Kong are not about risks in Hong Kong. They are about risks primarily in the United States,” Frater said, referring to the misleading statements Meng allegedly gave to HSBC at a meeting in Hong Kong, which form the basis of the United States’ case against her.

Defence lawyer Gib van Ert argued U.S. authorities’ claimed jurisdiction over Meng’s conduct in Hong Kong is unfounded, calling it a “plain power grab” on Tuesday.

Meng’s legal team is expected to argue one more attempt to cancel the extradition, based on allegations of misrepresentations in the record of the case, starting on April 26. Her case is set to wrap up in May.

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