A lawyer for Huawei management, Meng Wanzhou, accused former US President Donald Trump of co-opting his extradition process with the aim of using it as leverage in trade negotiations with China.
Richard Peck told the British Columbia Supreme Court on Wednesday that Trump’s comments to the media after Meng’s arrest amounted to an abuse of process.
“The only words that will dilute what we say is a stain on these proceedings and on the Canadian justice system, it is a stay of proceedings,” said Peck, making the first of several arguments the team de Meng will do so in the coming weeks to request his release.
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Meng was arrested at Vancouver Airport on December 1, 2018 at the behest of U.S. officials on fraud charges which she and Huawei deny.
Ten days after his arrest, Trump was asked if the United States would intervene in Meng’s case to get a better deal with China.
“If I think it’s good for what’s going to be the biggest trade deal ever – which is very important – which is good for national security, I would definitely step in if I thought it necessary,” Trump said. to the Reuters news agency.
The comment did not exist in isolation, but was the first in a series of repeated statements that demonstrate an ulterior motive, Peck said.
“With this declaration, Ms. Meng has become a bargaining chip, a pawn in this economic contest between these two superpowers. These words are the first salvo in this trade war, ”Peck told the court.
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But a lawyer for the Attorney General of Canada, who represents the United States in the case, said the argument is no longer relevant now that Trump has been removed from office, the trade deal is done and the there was no evidence of intervention.
Robert Frater said that even if it did not, Trump’s “vague” comments do not support an allegation of abuse of process.
“They never had a basis for this argument,” Frater told the court. “There is nothing remotely threatening in anything that has been said.”
Wednesday marked the start of arguments from Meng’s legal team who claim that she has been abused in four different ways and that the proceedings against her should be stayed if proven.
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The case culminates with the actual extradition hearing in May.
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Peck told the court that Trump’s comments came against the backdrop of a long technology race with China in which Huawei threatened to dominate 5G networks around the world.
They cast a veil on the court proceedings, reducing Meng from a human being to “personal property” and striking at the heart of human dignity, he said.
The comments also make the case unique, he said.
“In the annals of extradition law, it seems to be the first time that the head of a requesting state has directly pronounced on the fate of a wanted person” and publicly declares his will or intention to intervene for whatever reason, let alone economic, Peck said.
Peck gave several other examples that he said add to the cumulative effect of Trump’s initial comment on the case.
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Almost three months after Meng’s arrest, Trump was asked if the United States would drop the prosecution of the Huawei executive over a trade deal during a press conference with the vice-premier Chinese Minister Liu He.
“We will be discussing all of this over the next two weeks,” Trump said, adding that at the moment it was not something under discussion.
In June 2019, Trump was asked again about Huawei’s role in trade negotiations.
“We are leaving Huawei towards the end. We’ll see where we go with the trade deal, ”Trump said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s own comments on the case also came under scrutiny on Wednesday. Meng’s team highlighted a December 2019 statement that the United States and China should not finalize a deal until the issue of Meng and two Canadians detained in China, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, is settled.
“This is hardly consistent with the rule of law,” said Mona Duckett, another lawyer for Meng.
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But Frater accused Meng’s team of choosing and adding meaning to a statement amid a sea of other clear and consistent messages from the prime minister that Canada respects the rule of law.
“The statements made by the Prime Minister in my respectful presentation have always attempted to distinguish this matter from any other political consideration.”
Trump’s comments are also inconsistent with statements made by other knowledgeable government officials, such as the acting attorney general, secretary of state and chief negotiator for U.S. trade talks with China, Frater said.
The Biden administration has also consistently indicated a respect for the rule of law, Frater said. He pointed to comments from the Secretary of State, the White House press secretary and the Justice Department all stating that Meng’s case falls within the jurisdiction of the courts, not politicians.
“The idea that you could claim that it is necessary to intervene now because there has been no waiver of that position is just not credible,” said Frater.
Frater will continue his response on Thursday.
© 2021 The Canadian Press