AP NEWS TEST SITE
ADVERTISEMENT

Donald Trump wanted ‘ransom’ for Meng Wanzhou, lawyer tells extradition case

August 9, 2021 GMT

The abuse of process Meng had suffered at the hands of Trump and others was so severe the proceedings should be halted, releasing her, said Peck, who has argued some of Canada’s most high-profile and controversial cases.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

Canadian government lawyers representing US interests in the case have said Meng failed to demonstrate wrongdoing by the US, and nothing to justify the “extraordinary remedy” of a stay.

Meng, who is Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, is in the final stretch of her marathon extradition proceedings in Vancouver.

The US wants her to face trial in New York for allegedly defrauding HSBC bank by lying about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, thus putting the bank at risk of breaching US sanctions on Tehran. Meng denies the charges.

ADVERTISEMENT

The allegations centre on a PowerPoint presentation that Meng made to a HSBC banker in a Hong Kong teahouse in 2013.

Since last Wednesday, the court had heard arguments about an alleged abuse in which the US provided the court with records of the case (ROCs) against Meng that were said to be misleading; her lawyers say the documents were deliberately crafted to omit details about the PowerPoint presentation that suggested Meng had not lied.

The nature of the ROCs represents the so-called third branch of Meng’s overall case that she has suffered an abuse of process. The others are that the US case was politically tainted by Trump and others; that Meng’s Canadian Charter rights were violated by police and border officers; and that the prosecution is contrary to international law.

On Monday, the hearings moved to discuss remedies for all four allegations.

Peck told the court that the Canadian government had repeatedly invoked “rule of law” as a justification for the extradition process.

But he said the US had committed a host of violations that were injurious to Meng’s rights, her “worth and dignity”. These violations were “unacceptable and injurious to the integrity of our system”.

He homed in on Trump’s comments in the days after Meng’s arrest on December 1, 2018, that he would intervene in her case if it helped win the US trade war with China.

“That’s the very definition of ransom,” said Peck. “That’s what we’re dealing with here.”

Trump had revealed his “unequivocal intention” to discuss Meng’s case with Canada, his own attorney general and US lawyers in the case. This was, said Peck, “deeply offensive to the rule of law”, including the integrity of the extradition process, and the separation of powers.

ADVERTISEMENT

“His expressed intention ... is that he’s going to act when the time is right,” he said, reducing Meng to “a chattel, a bargaining chip” and making her freedom part of an economic deal.

Peck took the court back to the Hong Kong meeting on August 22, 2013 between Meng and a banker known to the court as “Witness B”. He was, said Peck, responsible for HSBC’s banking operations throughout Asia, including a decade-long relationship with Huawei, which was “close and some might say near symbiotic”.

The Chinese tech firm and the British-based banking giant were “anything but strangers”, said Peck.

The meeting came about as a result of articles by Reuters that suggested Huawei had used a company called Skycom to try to sell US-made equipment in Iran, in breach of American sanctions.

HSBC had “understandably” sought clarification, said Peck, since the bank had entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the US for having illegally conducted Iran business; the bank incurred penalties just shy of US$2 billion.

Five years to the day after the teahouse meeting, Meng and Huawei were charged under a sealed indictment in New York.

But the basis for the charges was a meeting “conducted in a foreign country, by foreign nationals, representing foreign institutions”, said Peck, calling the connection to the US “at best, evanescent, minuscule”. He said no actual economic loss had been alleged.

He told Holmes that under any of the four branches, or their cumulative effect, Meng’s was the “clearest of cases” and met the test for a stay of proceedings.

Peck’s colleague, Tony Paisana, said that the court needed to dissociate itself from the alleged misconduct with a stay, because “the authorities remain defiant” about their behaviour, and had “doubled down” on it.

“Failing to deter it will only encourage it in the future,” he said.

In a written submission, the lawyers for Canada’s government said that Meng had failed to demonstrate any “ongoing prejudice” to her as a result of the allegedly faulty records of the case.

“Simply put, this case does not feature the type of conduct by the requesting state that is so intolerable that the court must distance itself from it,” they wrote.

Even if there were “omissions” in the ROCs “it plainly does not justify the drastic remedy of a stay of proceedings”.

Alternative remedies could include admitting the allegedly omitted portions of the ROCs, or excising anything found to be misleading, they wrote.

They have previously called Trump’s comments about Meng “moot”, because he is no longer in office.

Meng’s arrest triggered a crisis in Beijing’s relations with Washington and Ottawa. Two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were swiftly arrested in China; they were put on trial for espionage this year but verdicts have not been announced. Canada’s government has said the men are victims of arbitrary detention.

Meng’s extradition hearings, which are scheduled to commence their committal phase later this week, could continue until August 20. After that, Holmes will consider whether to free Meng or recommend to Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti that she be extradited.

But experts say that an appeal is likely regardless of what Holmes decides, potentially dragging out the process for years.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Copyright (c) 2021. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.