Huawei exec's family granted exemption to enter Canada

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, leaves her Vancouver home to attend her extradition trial on January 12, 2021

Canada granted the husband and two children of detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou a travel exemption to join her in Vancouver as she fights extradition to the United States, an official confirmed Wednesday.

Most non-essential travel to Canada was halted last March in a bid to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. But Ottawa can and has made exceptions, including for family reunifications.

The first news that Meng's husband Liu Xiaozong arrived in October, followed by the children in December, emerged during her extradition trial this week.

"Ms. Meng's family was authorized by IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) officials to travel to Canada," Syrine Khoury in the foreign minister's office wrote in an email to AFP.

Meng's situation starkly contrasts that of two Canadians languishing in China's opaque legal system since their arrest in December 2018.

While Meng was released on bail with conditions that include a curfew in her Vancouver mansion and that she wear a GPS monitoring ankle bracelet, consular visits for former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were only restored in October after being suspended in January 2020.

Meng's lawyers this week asked the British Columbia Supreme Court to relax her bail conditions, notably doing away with daytime supervision by private security guards.

But Doug Maynard, the head of the security guard company enforcing Meng's bail conditions warned that she is at an increased risk of fleeing the country to avoid facing US fraud and conspiracy charges as her extradition trial enters its final months.

The businesswoman -- whose father is Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei -- faces accusations that Huawei violated US sanctions on Iran and hid its relationship with former subsidiary Skycom in Iran from HSBC bank, which Meng denies.

"In my mind, some of the risks may be elevating," Maynard testified. He said that relaxing her supervision would "provide an inordinate opportunity for someone intent on harming Ms. Meng or removing her from this region to prevent her from attending court."

He noted that Meng's GPS monitoring anklet had "failed" multiple times and that a technologically savvy person could easily hamper or remove the device.

He also revealed that her guards recently started opening her mail for her after she'd received threats.

Meng's lawyer Bill Smart, however, alleged bias, countering in cross-examination that Maynard's firm would lose Can$170,000 (US$135,000) a month in fees if the supervision contract ended.

str-amc/ch