Canadian judge weighs bail for Huawei exec

Vancouver (AFP) –


A Canadian judge will weigh Tuesday whether to release on bail a top executive of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, amid a diplomatic row provoked by her arrest on a US warrant.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested on December 1 in Vancouver on US fraud charges related to sanctions-breaking dealings with Iran, infuriating China.

This third day of court deliberations was to focus on her proposed release plan. The judge was expected to render a decision, but could push it to a later date.

Meng has agreed to surrender her passports and submit to electronic monitoring if she is released, pending the outcome of the extradition case.

"Given her unique profile as the face of a Chinese corporate national champion, if she were to flee or breach her order in any way in these very unique circumstances, it does not overstate to say she would embarrass China itself," Meng's lawyer David Martin told the court on Monday.

Meng also said in a 55-page affidavit that she'd suffered numerous health problems, including surgery for thyroid cancer in 2011, and has been treated in a Vancouver hospital for hypertension since her arrest.

"I continue to feel unwell and I am worried about my health deteriorating while I am incarcerated," the affidavit read.

"I wish to remain in Vancouver to contest my extradition and I will contest the allegations at trial in the US if I am ultimately surrendered," she said.

Canadian Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley has asked for bail to be denied, saying Meng faces serious criminal accusations of fraud and poses a flight risk.

Meng is specifically accused of lying to bankers about the use of a covert subsidiary to sell to Iran in breach of sanctions.

If convicted, she faces more than 30 years in prison. The extradition process could take months, even years, if appeals are made in the case.

Meng has offered to wear a tracking anklet if she is released. A private security team paid for by her would also follow her movements in Canada's Pacific coast city.

Her husband Liu Xiaozong has presented two Vancouver residences and Can$1 million in cash -- for a total value of Can$15 million -- as a surety for his wife's release, the court heard on Monday.

But Gibb-Carsley took issue with Liu being appointed her custodian as he is not a legal resident of Canada, and flew in only last week on a six-month tourist visa.

- China warns against 'bullying' -

Meng's detention has raised tensions following a truce in the US-China trade war, with Beijing summoning both the Canadian and US ambassadors over the weekend.

In a sign that the criminal case has not derailed the trade respite, top Chinese and US negotiators held telephone talks on Tuesday to discuss the timetable of trade talks, the Chinese commerce ministry said.

It said in a statement that Vice Premier Liu He spoke with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

At the same time, however, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned against the "bullying" of its citizens.

And a former Canadian diplomat has been detained in China, the think tank where he now works said.

China has accused Canada of treating Meng in an "inhumane" manner, citing reports in Chinese state-run media alleging she was not given adequate medical care.

Beijing has also claimed that the Chinese embassy was not immediately notified of her arrest.

There was no official word from China about Michael Kovrig, who served as a Canadian diplomat in Beijing, Hong Kong and at the United Nations, but the detention comes after Beijing warned of "grave consequences" if Meng was not immediately released.

"The safety and security of Chinese compatriots are our priority, China will never sit idly by and ignore any bullying that violates the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a speech in Beijing, without directly referring to the Huawei case.

"We will fully safeguard the legitimate rights of Chinese citizens and return fairness and justice to the world," he said at the opening of a diplomatic symposium.