Trump comments may help Chinese exec go free: Canadian ambassador

January 23, 2019

Comments by President Trump may bolster a top Chinese executive’s case fighting extradition from Canada to the U.S. for suspected illegal trading with Iran, Canada’s ambassador to China said Wednesday.

Canadian Ambassador to China John McCallum told reporters that Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. arrested in Vancouver Dec. 1, “has some strong arguments she can make” in fighting the U.S. Justice Department extradition demand, according to a report in by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Chief among them, according to the envoy: a Dec. 12 interview Mr. Trump gave to Reuters in which he said he would be willing to use the Meng case as a bargaining chip if it would help clinch a trade deal with Beijing. In the face of furious protests by Beijing, Canadian officials have stressed that the Huawei case was being handled strictly as a legal matter.

But Mr. Trump told the news service last month that, “if I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever which is a very important thing, what’s good for national security I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

China has demanded the immediate release of Ms. Meng, daughter of the company founder and one of the country’s best-known female executives, and has detained two prominent Canadians in China in apparent retaliation for her arrest. The Trump administration this week affirmed it is still seeking her extradition to face charges Huawei illegally traded with Iran in defiance of then-in force economic sanctions.

Mr. McCallum, addressing a group of Chinese-language media outlets in Markham, Ontario, noted that Canada had not signed on to the Iran sanctions another factor that may favor Ms. Meng.

But he insisted there would be “zero involvement” by the federal government as the case makes its way through the legal system.

“I know this has angered China, but we have a system of ... rules of law, which are above the government,” the ambassador said. “The government cannot change these things.”

Update hourly