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Trump says he may intervene as Huawei CFO granted bail in Canada

US still seeking her extradition over fraud charges after executive freed

Supporters hold signs and Chinese flags outside court during the third day of a bail hearing for Meng Wanzhou. AP
Supporters hold signs and Chinese flags outside court during the third day of a bail hearing for Meng Wanzhou. AP

US President Donald Trump said he would consider intervening in the case against Huawei's chief financial officer if it meant Washington could extract concessions from China and secure a trade deal with Beijing.

“If I think it’s good for the country, if I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Mr Trump told Reuters.

Huawei's CFO Meng Wanzhou was granted bail by a Canadian court on Tuesday, but only after four former colleagues, friends and her husband pledged C$10 million (Dh27m) to support her bail request. Her previous request to be released on bail was rejected as she was deemed as flight risk. As part of the agreement with the court, Ms Meng, who cried as the decision was read out, must wear an ankle monitor that tracks her movements and hand over her Chinese and Hong Kong passports.

The December 1 arrest of Ms Meng, the daughter of the founder of the Chinese technology giant, took place on the same day as Mr Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. Her detention has raised questions about the temporary detente between the two countries announced at the summit, which put a pause on the trade war that was expected to escalate in January. Mr Trump was set to raise tariffs to 25 per cent on $200 billion worth of Chinese products from 10 per cent in January. The two countries will now reach a deal by March 1.

Ms Meng, 46, has to stay in Vancouver, awaiting a possible extradition to the United States over fraud charges. The US Department of Justice accuses the Chinese executive of conspiring to defraud banks. In addition, she is accused of misrepresenting or concealing ties between Huawei and Hong Kong's Skycom, which had a presence in Iran and attempted to sell products to Tehran in violation of US and European sanctions.

Ms Meng's arrest has rattled markets in Asia and the US. Huawei, which was vehemently backed the executive and denied any wrong doing by her or the company, welcomed her release.

"We have every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach a just conclusion in the following proceedings," the company said in a statement. "As we have stressed all along, Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including export control and sanction laws of the UN, US and EU. We look forward to a timely resolution of this matter."

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The US has 60 days from the date of arrest to provide Canada with its formal request for extradition and supporting documents, according to an emailed statement from the office of John Gibb-Carsley, the Canadian prosecutor. Ms Meng can appeal the extradition decision. If she is extradited to the US and convicted, she faces up to 30 years in jail.

The CFO's arrest, while she was transiting in Vancouver to catch a connecting flight to Mexico, has outraged China, which summoned both the Canadian and American ambassadors to Beijing to protest her detention. Beijing threatened Ottawa with "serious consequences", if the executive is not released and on Tuesday detained Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat and senior adviser on North East Asia with the International Crisis Group. Mr Kovrig has previously worked for the UN and is a graduate of Columbia University.

"We are doing everything possible to secure additional information on Michael's whereabouts as well as his prompt and safe release," ICG said in a statement.

Updated: December 12, 2018 04:05 PM

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