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Huawei exec silent on plea deal at Canada extradition trial

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Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou arrives at the British Columbia Supreme Court, in Vancouver, Canada, on December 7, 2020./AFP
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Dec 08, 2020 - 07:23 AM

VANCOUVER, CANADA — Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou offered no comment Monday on reported plea negotiations in her Canadian court battle against extradition to the United States.

Asked by AFP if she would take a deal from the US reported by the Wall Street Journal, Meng simply smiled back and rushed past a crush of cameras outside her Vancouver home before taking a black SUV to court.

Defense and government lawyers also declined to comment as they headed into the Vancouver courthouse.

The businesswoman — whose father is Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei — has been in a two-year battle against extradition over charges Huawei violated US sanctions on Iran.

Reports of a possible “deferred prosecution agreement” with the US Justice Department had raised hopes that the case could be settled and two Canadians detained in apparent retaliation by Beijing would also be set free.

Under the terms, Meng would admit some of the fraud and conspiracy charges related to the alleged violations by Huawei and be allowed to return to China.

But she is reluctant to agree on a deal that would see her admit wrongdoing, the Journal said last Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

Meng’s lawyers have tried to derail the extradition proceedings by arguing that her rights were violated during her arrest, which Canada denies.

She has also argued that she is the victim of political persecution and that the US is attacking Huawei to contain China’s advances in technology.

Officials will testify this week about her arrest, and be pressed on why identifying information for her laptop and phones — as well as passcodes — were given to the FBI, according to the defense.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Ross Lundie said on the witness stand Monday that he felt “uncomfortable” assisting the FBI in the case.

“I’m not there to provide information or to act on behalf of the FBI,” he said under cross-examination. “I work for the RCMP.”

Meng was arrested on a US warrant in December 2018 during a stopover in Vancouver.

Days later, Beijing detained Canadians Michael Kovrig — a former diplomat — and Michael Spavor on suspicions of espionage.

The extradition hearing is scheduled to wrap up in April 2021.

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