Canada court rejects Huawei CFO push for publication ban on new evidence in U.S. extradition case

FILE PHOTO: Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver
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By Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER (Reuters) -Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou's request for a publication ban on new evidence her legal team received from HSBC has been denied by a Canadian court in her U.S. extradition case, a lawyer involved in the case said on Friday.

Meng, 49, was arrested in December 2018 for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.

She faces a Canadian government extradition attempt on charges of bank fraud in the United States.

Canadian prosecutors had fought her request for a publication ban on documents relevant to her case received from HSBC via a court in Hong Kong. The documents were provided on the condition that Meng make a reasonable effort to keep them private.

The British Columbia Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the request, said Daniel Coles, the legal counsel representing a consortium of media outlets - including Reuters - who argued against the publication ban.

The reasons for the denial were not made public, pending issues relating to a previous publication ban, Coles said.

Prosecutors representing the Canadian government had argued that "to be consistent with the open court principle, a ban must be tailored" and details should be selectively redacted from the public, rather than the whole documents.

Meng has been under house arrest in Vancouver for more than two years and fighting her extradition. Meng has said she is innocent.

Alykhan Velshi, vice president of corporate affairs at Huawei Canada, said in an emailed statement the company accepts the court's decision, adding that "the truth in these documents can now come out."

The Canadian government and HSBC were not immediately available for comment.

The open court principle requires that court proceedings be open and accessible to the public and to the media.

It is unclear what documents Huawei obtained from HSBC, but defense lawyers argue they are relevant to Meng's case. Hearings in the extradition case are scheduled to finish in late August.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Howard Goller)

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