Meng Wanzhou, “pawn” of conflict between Washington and Beijing, says his lawyer

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A lawyer for Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, accused Donald Trump on Wednesday of making his client a “pawn” in a trade war between the United States and China.

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Meng Wanzhou, 49, who is fighting in Canada against his extradition to the United States, is accused by Washington of having circumvented American sanctions against Iran. The United States wants to try her for bank fraud. The applicant has always denied these accusations.

His lawyers accuse the former US president of having “poisoned” the procedure by affirming in an interview at the end of 2018 that he would not hesitate to intervene in the procedure against Ms. Meng if it made it possible to obtain trade concessions from China.

They claim that this intervention, as well as “abuses” by Canada and the United States, deprived Ms. Meng of her right to a fair and equitable trial, and they are calling for an annulment of the extradition process.

These words of the former tenant of the White House, made a few days after the arrest of Ms. Meng during a stopover in Vancouver on December 1, 2018, were not simple “flippant comments”, argued Wednesday Richard Peck, counsel for Ms. Meng, before the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

They were repeated “on multiple occasions” and taken up by other members of his government, he stressed.

“The then US president took over the extradition process in an effort to exploit Ms. Meng (…) in US trade negotiations with China,” he said.

“Ms. Meng has become a bargaining chip, a pawn, in this economic competition between two world superpowers,” he added.

Echoing Beijing’s position, Peck said the United States sought to prosecute Meng as part of “a concerted and coordinated effort by the US government to weaken and destroy Huawei.”

The representative of the Canadian prosecution, Robert Frater, for his part brushed aside the arguments of Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers, believing that the words of the former US president were “irrelevant” now that the latter is no longer in office.

Mr. Trump’s comments should not bear any bearing on Meng Wanzhou’s extradition process, he said, calling for claims that he “poisoned” the process to be dismissed.

“The basis for their request is non-existent,” pointed out Me Frater in court. “They have lost what they consider to be their Ace: the former president,” he said.

Relations between Ottawa and Beijing are going through an unprecedented crisis since the arrest in late 2018 in China of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and his compatriot Michael Spavor, accused of espionage, a few days after that of Meng Wanzhou.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has always denounced “arbitrary” arrests, accused Beijing on Wednesday of having “invented” a threat to national security to justify their arrest.