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Trade war

Huawei CFO's legal team voices concern about 'political' arrest

Trump's talk of intervening in extradition case rings alarm bells for Meng's side

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou as rendered in a courtroom sketch.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou said Wednesday that "political motivation" is behind the Huawei Technologies chief financial officer's detention, citing hints by U.S. President Donald Trump that he could use the case as leverage in negotiations with China.

The comments came at a 17-minute court hearing in Vancouver on the extradition case that Meng attended wearing a cap and purple hoodie, according to Canadian media reports. The judge scheduled the next hearing for May 8.

Meng was arrested in Canada in December at the behest of the U.S., which seeks her extradition to face charges related to alleged violations of sanctions against Iran.

Richard Peck, a lawyer for Meng, cited comments by Trump that suggested he could intervene in her case if doing so would help secure a trade deal with China or be good for national security.

"There are serious concerns of a legal and factual nature," Peck said.

Meng's attorneys say Canadian authorities violated her constitutional rights when detaining her at Vancouver International Airport. They are expected to claim abuse of process in future hearings.

Meng has sued the Canadian government for damages, alleging that she was improperly interrogated prior to her arrest. The executive was questioned for three hours under the guise of routine customs procedures, and was ordered to surrender her phones, computers and their passwords, her attorneys claim.

The lawsuit will proceed separately from the extradition hearings, according to local media reports. But if the court decides that Meng was indeed improperly detained, it could cancel extradition hearings or reject certain evidence submitted by the U.S.

The U.S. has charged Meng since her arrest with engaging in illegal financial transactions with Iran, and has formally requested her extradition from Canada. The Canadian Department of Justice decided last Friday to move forward with an extradition hearing.

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