Huawei CFO sues Canadian government, police, border force

The lawsuit alleges that the global Huawei CFO was detained and interrogated by airport customs, and her electronic devices searched, before informing her that she was under arrest.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is suing the Canadian government, police force, and border agency, claiming she was detained, searched, and interrogated before she was told that she was under arrest.

According to the lawsuit, Meng was interrogated "under the guise of a routine customs" search, and was thereby compelled to "provide evidence and information" instead of being arrested.

The Canada Border Service Agency took her electronic devices and viewed the content after acquiring her passwords, the lawsuit alleges, without advising her of the real reason for her detention.

The Canadian Justice Department has approved Meng's extradition hearing to take place, with the CFO due in court on Wednesday this week to set a date for proceedings to begin.

The US indictment against Meng claims that during meetings with an unnamed banking institution in the US, she misrepresented Huawei's ownership and control of Iranian affiliate Skycom, as well as its compliance with UN, US, and EU sanctions.

The company is also facing counts for conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA); violating the IEEPA; committing money laundering; and obstructing justice.

Huawei is additionally facing allegations in a separate indictment that it conspired to steal intellectual property from T-Mobile and subsequently obstructed justice. The alleged activity occurred during 2012-13 and relates to Huawei's attempt to build a robot similar to the one T-Mobile was using to test mobile phones.

Huawei pleaded not guilty last week to the federal charges of stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile, conspiracy, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice, the US Justice Department said, with a trial set for March 2, 2020.

If found guilty, Huawei would be fined either $5 million, or three times the value of the stolen trade secret, whichever is higher.

In an open letter over the weekend, Huawei board director Catherine Chen asked US media to not believe what they had heard about the company and "come and see us".

"In recent years, the US government has developed some misunderstandings about us. We would like to draw your attention to the facts," the letter says.

"We operate in more than 170 countries and regions, including countries like the UK, Germany, and France. We provide innovative and secure telecoms network equipment and smartphones to more than 3 billion people around the world."

Chen highlighted Huawei's work across innovation, university research programs, and disaster relief.

"There are only so many people we can reach out to. On behalf of Huawei, I would like to invite members of the US media to visit our campuses and meet our employees," Chen said.

"I hope that you can take what you see and hear back to your readers, viewers, and listeners, and share this message with them, to let them know that our doors are always open. We would like the US public to get to know us better, as we will you."

While Huawei was chosen to build out South Korean carrier LG Uplus' 5G network, the Chinese tech giant's 5G solutions have been banned by Australia and the US, limited by New Zealand, and left off the vendor list of South Korea's largest carrier SK Telecom.

The US has also taken to warning central European nations and Canada against using Huawei for 5G. A bipartisan Bill was also introduced in the United States in January that, if passed, would ban the export of US chips and other components to Huawei and its compatriot ZTE.  

Despite this, the UK is still open to using Huawei; Italy has reportedly denied that it will ban Huawei; and Angela Merkel has set conditions for the company's participation in Germany's new mobile network, including guarantees from the company that it will not hand over information to the Chinese government.

With AAP

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