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Lawyer for Huawei CFO Tells Canadian Judge Flight Would Be ‘Inconceivable’ at Bail Hearing in Vancouver

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VANCOUVER – In Monday’s bail hearing for embattled chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, her lawyer argued nothing less than the dignity of her home country will be on the line if she makes bail.

David Martin made his final pitch for Meng Wanzhou’s release in a series of points aimed at convincing B.C. Supreme Court Justice William Ehrcke it wouldn’t be in the millionaire executive’s self-interest to flee Canada.

“It does not overstate to say she would embarrass China itself,” he told the judge.

The hearing resumed in a packed Vancouver courtroom on Monday, the next step in a case that has spooked international financial markets and threatened to damage the delicate trade relationship between the United States and China.

Meng, 46, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1 on suspicion of fraud involving violations of U.S. sanctions in Iran. American prosecutors are fighting for her extradition.

‘Woman of Character and Dignity’

Canadian prosecutors argued against granting Meng bail during her first court appearance in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday.

But Martin called the evidence against her “far from overwhelming,” arguing that her flight would be “inconceivable.”

“She is a woman of character and dignity. That she is deeply respectful of the rule of law,” Martin told the judge.

“It would take somebody who is utterly tone deaf to not understand that the United States has a political legal posture of adversity against both China and its largest company.”

Prosecutors have asked the court to consider the fact that Meng hasn’t travelled to the U.S. since 2017 as proof that she knows she faces the possibility of arrest.

But Martin said there are many reasons someone might not go to the U.S.

“I like to go to New York or L.A. as much as anybody — but it’s not necessary for people to travel there.”

Electronic Surveillance Proposed

Meng entered the packed courtroom wearing a green prison sweatsuit, her husband sitting in the front row near the glass prison enclosure.

For much of the morning, Martin focused on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring, proposing that Meng would wear a body-tracking device and be followed by a private security team — and that she would pick up the tab.

Lions Gate Risk Management Group chief executive Scott Filer, a former RCMP staff sergeant, testified that Meng would carry tracking equipment and wear a body tracking device to indicate her whereabouts.

The security team proposed for Meng would include a former RCMP officer previously responsible for all emergency response teams in B.C.

Meng is shown with a translator during a bail hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Friday. (Jane Wolsak/Canadian Press)

Filer said it would be the first time a risk-management company became involved in monitoring bail, and that while he can’t guarantee they won’t lose track of Meng, they would be able to answer the demands of the court.

Stephen Tan, a founding partner of a GPS monitoring services company, testified that his company has monitored 520 people out on bail — with only one person fleeing successfully.

Tan said the ankle bracelet that Meng would be required to wear can be removed with a pair of scissors, but that an alert is triggered when the bracelet is tampered with. He said the company has handled other high-profile extradition cases that involved concerns around hacking of the electronic devices.

Arrest ‘Extremely Egregious’: Chinese official

Meng allegedly used an unofficial company called Skycom to access the Iranian market between 2009 and 2014 — dealings that would be in violation of U.S. sanctions.​

It’s also alleged Meng and other Huawei executives found out about U.S. criminal investigations into the company’s practices and began to alter travel patterns to avoid American authorities during or around 2017.

Multiple fraud charges against her each carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Members of the media wait outside B.C. Supreme Court Friday as Meng’s bail hearing is held inside. Photography and videography are forbidden inside the courthouse. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Meng was en route from Hong Kong to Mexico when she was arrested while changing planes at Vancouver International Airport.

Her ongoing detention has stoked trade tensions between the United States and China.

China’s leaders have lashed out against Meng’s arrest and called for her immediate release. One top government official called the detention “extremely egregious,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canadian Ambassador John McCallum on Saturday and American Ambassador Terry Branstad on Sunday. He demanded that the U.S. vacate the arrest warrant, and warned McCallum of “grave consequences” if Meng is not released.

Asked Monday what those steps might be, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said only that it “totally depends on the Canadian side itself.

By Michelle GhoussoubCBC News