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Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, arrives at B.C. Supreme Court to attend her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, on Aug. 9, 2021.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Former president Donald Trump treated a Chinese executive held by Canada for possible extradition to the United States as a hostage in international trade negotiations with China, lawyers for Meng Wanzhou told a B.C. court on Monday.

Richard Peck, lead lawyer for Ms. Meng, said Mr. Trump’s comments on the case in 2018 and 2019 were as offensive to the rule of law as those made in the notorious 2001 case of United States of America v. Cobb, in which a prosecutor in Pennsylvania threatened a man contesting extradition with rape in prison if he didn’t give up the fight. (The Supreme Court of Canada was unanimous in rejecting extradition in that case, saying it would harm the justice system’s reputation by appearing to condone the threat.)

The argument is part of a last-ditch effort before the evidence phase of Ms. Meng’s extradition hearing begins mid-week to show that the U.S., in the comments of its former president and in other ways, and Canada, in its alleged actions while arresting Ms. Meng on Dec. 1, 2018, committed such serious wrongs that they besmirched the Canadian justice system, and the extradition request should be quashed.

Attorney-General says Meng Wanzhou extradition case has ‘overwhelming’ U.S. connection

Mr. Trump told Reuters within two weeks of Ms. Meng’s arrest: “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made, which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene, if I thought it was necessary.” The U.S., under Mr. Trump and his successor, President Joe Biden, has been embroiled in a trade dispute with China.

Mr. Peck said those comments and others “reduce the person sought, Ms. Meng, to a chattel, a bargaining chip. One implication is that her freedom is subject to a deal. That’s the very definition of ransom.”

Mr. Trump, he said, repeatedly threatened to intervene for political purposes, to discuss the case with his trade adversary, his own country’s attorney-general and other lawyers involved for the U.S.

“His words represent a subjugation, if not abdication, of due process at the judicial phase to serve economic interests,” he told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court.

He said the judge is probably tired of hearing that the case is unique, but “this case truly is one of a kind. When before has the head of state interfered in an extradition?”

Tony Paisana, another member of Ms. Meng’s legal team, asked the judge to imagine the Prime Minister making similar remarks in a domestic proceeding. “I don’t think anyone would suggest that would be anything but scandalous.”

Under Canadian extradition law, the U.S. needs only to persuade the judge that the crime Ms. Meng is accused of exists in Canada (it did so a year ago), and that there is enough evidence to send the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to trial. An extradition hearing is not a trial, and not a time when defences can be raised. Ms. Meng is charged with fraud related to an alleged evasion of U.S. sanctions on Iran. (The allegation is that she misrepresented Huawei’s business dealings to the global banking firm HSBC.)

Ms. Meng’s lawyers have presented wide-ranging allegations that the U.S. and Canada abused the judicial process. The judge is to rule on the abuse claims and the sufficiency of the U.S. evidence at the same time, probably a few months from now.

The abuse allegations involving Mr. Trump were presented in court in March. They were summarized on Monday as part of arguments on what the judge should do if she does find that the U.S., or Canada, or both, committed misconduct. Ms. Meng’s legal team argues nothing short of a stay of proceedings would be enough.

“The conduct in this case strikes at the heart of our justice system,” Mr. Paisana told Associate Chief Justice Holmes.

Ms. Meng’s lawyers also accuse the U.S. justice department of deliberately trying to mislead Canadian courts by omitting crucial information from documents in which they summarize the evidence against Ms. Meng. And they say Canada Border Services Agency officials violated Ms. Meng’s rights during her arrest, in part by turning over information to the U.S.

In a previous hearing, the Canadian Attorney-General’s department, representing the U.S., said the judge should ignore the “geopolitical winds” swirling around the case.

The RCMP’s arrest of Ms. Meng at the request of the U.S. justice department opened a deep breach in Canada-China relations. China arrested two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, shortly after, and they have been detained for nearly 1,000 days.

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