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Huawei CFO Meng back in Canadian court fighting U.S. extradition

VANCOUVER, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will be back in a Canadian courtroom on Monday as her lawyers resume their fight to block the United States’ efforts to extradite her.

Meng, 48, was arrested in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States charging her with bank fraud for misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran and causing the bank to break U.S. sanction law.

Huawei lawyers will argue that the U.S. extradition request was flawed because it omitted key evidence showing Meng did not lie to HSBC about Huawei’s business in Iran.

Meng, the daughter of billionaire Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition from her house arrest in Vancouver.

The arrest has strained China’s relations with both the United States and Canada. Soon after Meng’s detention, China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, charging them with espionage.

Meng will appear in British Columbia’s Supreme Court on Monday for five days of Vukelich hearings - in which the judge will ultimately decide whether to allow the defence to admit additional pieces of evidence in their favour.

In this case, Huawei lawyers will use a PowerPoint presentation to show HSBC knew the extent of Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, which they say the United States did not accurately portray in its extradition request to Canada.

In previously submitted documents, Meng’s lawyers claim the case that the United States submitted to Canada is “so replete with intentional and reckless error” that it violates her rights.

The argument is part of Meng’s legal strategy to prove that Canadian and American authorities committed abuses of process while arresting her.

Lawyers representing the Canadian attorney general are arguing for her extradition to the United States.

Vukelich hearings are rare in extradition cases, said Gary Botting, an extradition lawyer based in Vancouver, but given the complexity of Meng’s case it is not surprising.

The defence’s success “depends entirely on the nature of the evidence… and whether or not there is any substance to their allegations,” Botting added.

Meng’s extradition trial is currently set to wrap up in April 2021, although if either side appeals the case, it could drag on for years through the Canadian justice system.

Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver Editing by Denny Thomas and Diane Craft

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