January 23, 2021

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China Reportedly Chartered Plane to Take Arrested Huawei CFO Wanzhou Back Home Over Extradition Case

A private Boeing 777 plane was booked by China’s government to take Huawei deputy board chair Meng Wanzhou back home in May ahead of the ruling on her extradition to the United States, the South China Morning Post has claimed, citing a hearing at a Canadian court this week.

Meng is facing accusations of conspiracies to commit fraud by misleading HSBC about Huawei’s deals with Iran in a bid to get around US sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The company and Meng personally deny the charges, which they see as being “politically motivated”, with China insisting on Wanzhou’s innocence. Canadian prosecutors have been pushing for the officer’s actions to be considered illegal both in the US and Canada – the so-called issue of “double criminality”.

The company’s lawyers hoped that Justice Heather Holmes would rule in Meng’s favour on 27 May 2020 and the woman, who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, would be freed, but the court eventually decided that her actions were in breach of the laws of both Canada and the United States, thus allowing for the extradition hearing to go on.

© AP Photo / Ng Han Guan
A profile of Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is displayed on a Huawei computer at a Huawei store in Beijing, China

Liu Xiaozong, Meng’s husband of 14 years, admitted to the Canadian prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley on Tuesday, in his first testimony since his wife’s arrest, that there was a plane, charted from China Southern Airlines, waiting for her to bring the CFO back to China in May. But Liu could not confirm to the court whether the plane was booked by the Chinese government or by Huawei officials, as it was suggested by the Sydney Morning Herald, which cited Liu’s statement during cross-examination.

“Are you aware … there were arrangements made to take your wife, Ms Meng, back to China if she was successful in a court decision?”, the prosecutor was quoted as asking. Liu replied in the affirmative.

“Are you aware that members of the Chinese consulate were also involved in making arrangements for that flight being chartered?” Gibb-Carsley then reportedly asked. Meng’s husband said that he didn’t know about the arrangements in question.

Calls to Loosen Bail Requirements

The hearing was held as a part of Meng’s lawyers’ attempt to soften conditions around her US$7.8 million bail, which she was granted back in December 2018, shortly after being arrested at Vancouver International Airport. The woman pays for her own private guards from Lions Gate Risk Management, who accompany her whenever she ventures outside one of her two Vancouver mansions in a bid to prevent her escape.

Meng’s defence believes that such a strict surveillance could be lifted, as her husband insists that she, as a thyroid cancer survivor, is “at increased risk” of catching COVID-19 from her security detail, which also reportedly presents a “challenge” to the Huawei officer’s outside time with her children.  

The businesswoman’s family, husband Liu, 12-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son, were allowed to come to Vancouver from Hong Kong last year, after getting an exemption from Canada’s immigration department over travel restrictions brought by the pandemic.

But prosecutors oppose bail relaxation, arguing that the woman remains a flight risk. They also cite Meng’s occasional “private shopping”, art lessons in the residence and a large Christmas dinner at a restaurant as a points going against her claimed COVID-19 awareness, but Liu has maintained that all these instances had been low-profile.  

The decision on Meng’s bail is expected to be made this week, while the extradition case hearings will continue through spring 2021. In December 2020, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying reiterated that the Huawei employee has not committed any crimes in the US or Canada she has been accused of.

Original News : https://sputniknews.com/world/202101141081762295-china-reportedly-chartered-plane-to-take-arrested-huawei-cfo-wanzhou-back-home-over-extradition/

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