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Huawei exec's lawyers attack fraud charges

2020-01-22 HKT 09:27
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  • Meng Wanzhou arrives at her court hearing in Vancouver. Photo: AP
    Meng Wanzhou arrives at her court hearing in Vancouver. Photo: AP
Lawyers for a senior Chinese telecoms executive seeking to avoid extradition to the United States pressed on Tuesday for her release while stepping up attacks in a Canadian courtroom on the fraud charges against her.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is wanted by the US for allegedly lying to HSBC bank about Huawei's relationship with its Iran-based affiliate Skycom, putting the bank at risk of violating US sanctions against Tehran.

Her arrest at Canada's Vancouver airport caused a rift in its relations with China. Nine days after she was taken into custody Beijing arrested two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.

Their detentions on espionage suspicions, along with restrictions on Canadian agricultural imports, have been widely interpreted as retribution by Beijing aimed at pressuring Canada to free Meng.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday outright rejected a proposal by one of his predecessors to release Meng in a "prisoner swap" for the pair.

Ottawa, he said, will "respect the rule of law and our international treaties as we look to secure the release of the two Canadians who have been unfairly detained."

Meng has denied the allegations against her. She has been out on bail, living in one of her two Vancouver mansions for the past year.

To secure her freedom, however, she must convince a Canadian judge that the US charges would not stand up in Canada and are politically motivated.

In a high-security courtroom, defence lawyer Scott Fenton said there were no grounds to hand over Meng to US authorities. He called it a "peculiar" case that relies on "an extraordinary use of the instrument of fraud."

"As a matter of law the essential elements of fraud cannot be made out. (And so) the applicant should be discharged," he concluded at the end of the first two days of hearings.

Meng, dressed all in black with heels matching a black electronic monitoring anklet, followed the proceedings with the help of an interpreter. (AFP)