The Chinese government is using a recently released report from one of Canada’s spy agencies to bolster its allegation that the arrest of Meng Wanzhou was a political scheme concocted by the United States.
Two top spokespersons from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday pointed to a report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to support Beijing’s claim that the Dec. 1, 2018, detention of the Huawei executive at Vancouver International Airport was unjustified.
Ms. Meng was apprehended on a request from the United States under a joint treaty with Canada. The U.S. is seeking her extradition on fraud charges related to alleged violations of sanctions against Iran. U.S. authorities accuse Ms. Meng and other Huawei executives of lying to banks including HSBC so they would clear transactions with Iran through the United States, despite its sanctions against doing business with Iran.
The arrest soured relations between Canada and China, and Beijing jailed Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in apparent retaliation. China also imposed restrictions on Canadian agricultural imports in the months that followed. Sales of canola seed to China – once a major export – remain constrained.
Last Friday, a CSIS report made public in court proceedings related to Ms. Meng’s extradition case showed that just before she was taken in custody, the spy agency described the U.S.-ordered arrest as "highly political.”
The report indicates Canadian authorities anticipated a backlash from China after Ms. Meng, who is a member of China’s corporate royalty, was taken into custody. It also reveals Canadian authorities wanted to avoid the impression that the United States orchestrated events.
As Canadian authorities prepared to apprehend Ms. Meng, they realized the request from the U.S. government, which had already begun to lobby allies to exclude Huawei from next-generation 5G wireless networks, was unusual.
The CSIS report said the federal policing national security unit (FPNS) of the RCMP “recognizes the highly political nature of the arrest.”
The CSIS report also revealed that Canadian authorities were trying to play down the role that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation played in the matter. The report said the FBI would not participate in the arrest for reasons of optics. “The FBI will not be present in an effort to avoid the perception of influence."
The CSIS report also predicted Ms. Meng’s arrest would “send shockwaves around the world."
Hua Chunying, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, tweeted that the CSIS comments “reveal that the detention of the chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou of Huawei is indeed a highly political conspiracy of the U.S. and Canada.”
Zhao Lijian, another Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told a media briefing in Beijing Monday that the document “fully reveals the U.S. political intention to deliberately oppress Chinese high tech companies … and Canada has been acting as an accomplice.”
He urged Canada to release Ms. Meng, who is free on bail in Vancouver as she fights extradition to the United States.
“We urge Canada to earnestly respect China’s … position and please release Ms. Meng at once and ensure her safe return home – and do not go further down the wrong path,” Mr. Zhao told reporters in Beijing.
In a June 5 court filing, Ms. Meng’s legal team said the CSIS report shows the spy agency was “conscious of obscuring the involvement of the FBI.” It noted documents already disclosed “demonstrate that the FBI was in frequent contact with Canadian law enforcement,” including requesting that Ms. Meng’s electronic devices be seized and placed in signal-blocking bags.
The next phase of Ms. Meng’s extradition case will include three abuse-of-process arguments by her lawyers and a hearing on sufficiency of evidence.
Documents released by B.C. Supreme Court on Monday reveal that Ms. Meng’s legal team will argue that the summary of evidence submitted by the U.S. “is grossly inaccurate and based on deliberate and/or reckless misstatements of fact and material omissions,” constituting an abuse of the extradition process that warrants throwing the case out.
Specifically, Ms. Meng’s lawyers will argue that the U.S. government’s assertion that only junior HSBC employees knew of the relationship between Huawei and Skycom – which the U.S. has described as a Huawei subsidiary conducting business in Iran – is false.
“Evidence will demonstrate that it is inconceivable that any decision to modify or terminate HSBC’s relationship with Skycom or Huawei would not have been reviewed by the most senior management of HSBC,” one court document reads.
As well, in relation to a PowerPoint presentation that Ms. Meng delivered to an HSBC banker in Hong Kong in August, 2013 – in which she allegedly lied to the bank – the defence argues that the U.S. summary of evidence omits “critical disclosures that Ms. Meng made in the [presentation] regarding Huawei’s ongoing business operations in Iran.” This included a slide that said: “As a business partner of Huawei, Skycom works with Huawei in sales and service in Iran.”
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