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Huawei’s attorneys focus on witnesses’ refusal to testify upon extradition from the United States

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies chief financial officer, leaves home to attend a trial in Vancouver

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By Sarah Berman and Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s US extradition negotiations on Monday are expected to focus on a former Canadian police officer who refused to testify despite being a key witness to core allegations that Canadian and US authorities are making the arrest inappropriately coordinated by Meng.

Meng, 49, has been accused by the US of misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran, which led the bank to break US sanctions. Meng says she is innocent and is fighting her extradition for house arrest in Vancouver. In the event of an extradition, Meng will face court in the USA for bank fraud.

The defense has argued that abuse of process, including alleged coordination between Canadian and US authorities during their detention, should invalidate the extradition.

Canadian border officials questioned Meng for three hours before federal police arrested her on a U.S. arrest warrant in December 2018. Border officials confiscated Meng’s electronic devices and later admitted they had mistakenly given the passcodes to the police.

On Friday, defense attorney Scott Fenton told the British Columbia Supreme Court Justice that he would first ask on Monday why Ben Chang, a former royal Canadian police officer who allegedly gave identification details of Meng’s electronic devices to the FBI, didn’t coerce was to testify.

Last week, Fenton and another attorney, Mona Duckett, denied the motives stated by Canadian border officials when they questioned Meng before police arrest, arguing that they were conducting an undercover investigation for the FBI.

Canadian officials testified in November and December 2020 that they were following normal procedures. Canadian government attorneys have called the defense team’s argument an unsubstantiated “conspiracy”, stating that officials on both sides of the border followed due process.

Meng’s arrest has shaken diplomatic relations between China and Canada. Shortly after Meng’s arrest, Beijing arrested two Canadians on charges of espionage. The trial of Michael Spavor ended on Friday, while that of Michael Kovrig will begin on Monday.

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