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Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s CFO sues Canada over arrest

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The Huawei logo Reuters

Chinese telecoms company Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, has filed a case against Canadian authorities for violating her constitutional rights when she was arrested last year in Vancouver.

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Meng's lawyers say she suffered "serious breaches of her constitutional rights" and she was seeking damages for false imprisonment when detained last year in Canada.

The 47-year-old businesswoman was changing planes in Vancouver on 1 December when she was detained at Washington's request on suspicion of violating US sanctions on Iran.

The incident was followed by arrests of Canadians in China that observers say were retaliatory.

China suspects detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig of spying and stealing state secrets, state media reported Monday.

Another Canadian in Chinese detention – businessman Michael Spavor – was one of Kovrig's main sources of intelligence, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing authorities.

"Improper detention"

Meanwhile, Meng’s lawyers, attorneys Howard Mickelson and Allan Doolittle, say that she was detained “improperly” when she was interrogated for three hours by customs officers before being served with her official arrest.

During those three hours, the customs officers searched her phones and computers as well as her luggage, in violation of her rights, the lawyers said.

The complaint was lodged Friday, the same day that Canadian justice officially launched Meng's extradition process to the United States.

Released on parole

The US Justice Department accuses Huawei and its chief financial officer of circumventing US sanctions against Iran, but also, via two affiliates, stealing trade secrets from US telecommunications group T-Mobile.

The daughter of Huawei's founder, Meng was released on parole in mid-December in Vancouver, where she owns two residences, on a bond deposit of C$10 million (6.62 million Euro), wearing an electronic bracelet and handing over her passports.

She is scheduled to appear before a Vancouver judge on Wednesday "to confirm that a writ of court has been issued and to schedule a date for the extradition hearing," the Canadian court has explained.

"Benign tech competition"

The mainland Chinese press describes the Meng case as part of a “smear campaign against Huawei,” and the government-controlled China Daily adds that “the US Congress has passed several bills prohibiting the US military from procuring the products of Huawei ...  forbidding the US government from buying surveillance equipment from Chinese enterprises and restricting Chinese investment in US high-tech companies.”

The paper concludes that the measures have had a “negative impact on overall China-US relations,” and calls for “benign tech competition” that would also benefit the US.

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