Canada lawyer says Trump comments shouldn’t halt extradition

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – Former US President Donald Trump’s comments are inconsistent with halting an extradition negotiation by an executive at Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies, an attorney for the Canadian Department of Justice argued in a court Thursday.

Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei’s founder and chief financial officer, at Vancouver Airport in late 2018. The US wants her extradition to be charged with fraud. Her arrest enraged Beijing, which sees her case as a political move intended to prevent China’s rise.

The US is accusing Huawei of using a Hong Kong-based shell company called Skycom to sell devices to Iran in violation of US sanctions. Meng, 49, committed fraud by misleading HSBC bank about the company’s business relationships in Iran.

In a 2018 interview, Trump said he would “intervene (in the case) if I saw it necessary” to secure a trade deal with China or support US security interests.

Meng’s defense team says the comments pose a threat that has turned them into a “negotiating chip” and constitutes an abuse of process.

Canada’s Justice Department attorney Robert Frater said there was no evidence that the former president’s words would affect the fairness of Meng’s trial.

Frater dismissed allegations Meng is employed as a political farmer in a power struggle between the US and China.

“We urge you to focus on the facts and the law and leave politics to the politicians,” he said.

Meng, who attended the hearing in a short black dress that exposed the electronic bracelet on her ankle, listened to the proceedings through an interpreter.

Over the next few weeks, Meng’s defense team will present several reasons for terminating the extradition proceedings.

Later this month, they will be making an abuse of lawsuit. Canada Border Services Agency officials arrested and interviewed Meng without a lawyer, confiscated her electronic equipment, and forced her to give up her passwords prior to her official arrest.

Her lawyers also claim that the US is exceeding the limits of its jurisdiction by prosecuting a foreign citizen for acts in Hong Kong. Canada was misled by the US about the strength of its case.

Meng’s arrest has affected Canada-China relations. In apparent retaliation, China arrested former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor. China has also restricted various Canadian exports to China, including rapeseed oil seeds. China also sentenced four Canadians to death for drug smuggling.

Meng is bailed out in Vancouver.

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