VANCOUVER — The lawyer for a senior executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei arrested in Canada said comments by U.S. President Trump suggest the case against her is politically motivated.
Richard Peck on Wednesday referred to Trump’s comments during a brief court appearance for Meng Wanzhou. Canada arrested the daughter of Huawei’s founder at the request of the U.S. on Dec. 1. She is wanted on fraud charges.
The U.S. and China have tried to keep Meng’s case separate from the trade dispute. But Trump undercut that position by saying he would consider intervening in the case if it would help forge a trade deal with Beijing.
Peck called the case unique, saying there are “concerns about political characters, motivation, comments by the U.S. president.”
Peck said the case is complex and will take time, and as a result the defence and prosecution have agreed to put it over until May 8 to fix a date for an extradition hearing. Peck said abuse of process motions will likely be brought. Meng is suing the Canadian government, its border agency and the national police force, saying they detained, searched and interrogated her before telling her she was under arrest.
She is free on bail in Vancouver and living in one of her two multimillion dollar homes in the city.
Meng’s lawyers noted in a statement last week after Canada agreed to let the extradition hearings to proceed that Trump “has repeatedly stated that he would interfere in Ms. Meng’s case if he thought it would assist the U.S negotiations with China over a trade deal.”
Meng’s Dec. 1 arrest at the Vancouver airport set off a diplomatic furor that severely strained Canadian relations with China.
China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng. Kovrig and Spavor haven’t had access to a lawyer since being arrested.
A Chinese court also sentenced a Canadian to death in a sudden retrial, overturning a 15-year prison term handed down earlier. China is also blocking some imports of the agricultural product canola from Canada in development that could be related to Meng’s case.
Huawei is a focus of U.S. security concerns.
Washington has pressured other countries to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.
The Chinese embassy statement has said that due to “obvious political interference,” Canada should refuse the U.S. extradition request and release Meng.
AP writer Rob Gillies contributed from Toronto.
Jim Morris And Rob Gillies, The Associated Press