By Evan Duggan
VANCOUVER (Reuters) – The lawyer for Huawei Technologies’ Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou told a Canadian court on Wednesday that he has concerns allegations against her have a political character and raised U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments on the case.
Meng appeared in a British Columbia court for a scheduled hearing, during which her lawyer Richard Peck raised the issue and referenced “comments by the U.S. President” without going into detail.
Canada arrested Meng in Vancouver on Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. prosecutors, who have charged Meng and China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, portraying the company as a threat to U.S. national security and that it conspired to violate U.S. sanctions. Both deny the allegations.
Trump said in December that he would possibly intervene in the criminal trial if it could help him to secure a trade deal with China.
Legal experts and Canadian officials have previously said the comments could allow Meng’s lawyers to contend her prosecution is politically motivated, an argument that would resonate in Canada where judges are particularly wary of abuse of the court system.
Last week, Meng’s lawyers also said they were suing the Canadian government, its border agency and federal police, with allegations she was detained, searched and interrogated for three hours in violation of her constitutional rights.
“There are issues arising out of the treatment of Ms. Meng upon her arrival at the Vancouver International Airport and her detention and subsequent arrest,” lawyer Peck said on Wednesday.
The Canadian government approved extradition proceedings against Meng on March 1. With appeals, it may be months or years before a judge could issue an order effectively recommending extradition to the United States.
The British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Heather J. Holmes set Meng’s next court date for May 8. Peck said her team plans to discuss with prosecutors what applications will be brought before that appearance.
Canada’s minister of justice would have to make a final decision on whether to send Meng to the United States.
Relations between Canada and China have deteriorated sharply since Meng’s arrest. China has arrested two Canadians on national security grounds and sentenced another to death.
China has cancelled Canadian agribusiness Richardson International Ltd’s registration to ship canola to China, in the latest sign of tensions between Ottawa and Beijing.
(Reporting by Evan Duggan; Writing by Allison Martell; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)