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Meng Wanzhou, Huawei executive, set to be released

  • >>Katie Benner and Dan Bilefsky, The New York Times
    Published: 2021-09-24 23:07:34 BdST

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada September 24, 2021. Reuters

The Justice Department has reached an agreement that will allow Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, to return to China in exchange for admitting some wrongdoing in a sanctions violation case, a person familiar with the deal said Friday.

Meng, who has been detained in Canada since 2018, has agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement that is expected to be entered in federal court in New York City on Friday afternoon.

Meng will admit to some wrongdoing, and federal prosecutors will defer and then ultimately drop the charges against her, the person said. As part of the agreement, she will not enter a guilty plea.

Canadian authorities arrested Meng, 49, in December 2018 at Vancouver International Airport at the request of the United States. Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder and chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, instantly became one of the world’s most famous detainees.

The Justice Department indicted Meng and Huawei, the telecom company, in January 2018. It accused the firm and its chief financial officer of a decadelong effort to steal trade secrets, obstruct a criminal investigation and evade economic sanctions on Iran.

The charges underscored efforts by the Trump administration to directly link Huawei with the Chinese government, after long suspecting that the company worked to advance Beijing’s economic and political ambitions and undermine US interests.

Her arrest had thrust Canada into the middle of a battle between two global superpowers.

The deal to release Meng could signal a more conciliatory approach in Washington’s stance toward Beijing under the Biden administration.

If it leads to the release of two Canadians imprisoned in China, it could also provide a lift to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, who was reelected this week with a minority government after calling an unpopular snap election. Trudeau’s inability to secure their freedom has cast a shadow over his premiership.

China detained the two imprisoned Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, soon after Meng’s arrest in what has been widely viewed in Canada as hostage diplomacy. In August, a court in northeastern China, where Spavor has lived, sentenced him to 11 years in prison after declaring him guilty of spying.

Throughout her extradition hearing in Canada, Meng’s defence team professed her innocence. They argued that former President Donald Trump had politicised her case and that her rights had been breached when she was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia.

©2021 The New York Times Company