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Charges against Huawei’s Meng dropped four years after arrest

Meng Canada pic.jpg

Four years almost to the day since Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver airport, the US has dropped charges against her.

It’s also just 14 months since Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was allowed to return from Canada, where she faced extradition charges, to her home in China.

But there is still a US case against Huawei, alleging that it violated US sanctions against Iran. And since Meng’s arrest, the US and other western countries have taken strong measures against the company, once the world’s biggest suppliers of telecoms equipment, alleging that it is a security risk – charges Huawei denies.

District judge Ann Donnelly dismissed the remaining charges against Meng “with prejudice” – meaning the case cannot be brought again.

Meng, who is now also a rotating chair of Huawei, serving for six-month terms along with two others, was arrested on 1 December 2018 at Vancouver airport, having flown there to stay in one of the two homes she owned in the city.

The US had asked the Canadian authorities to arrest her and extradite her to the US to face trial.

She was accused of misleading HSBC and other terms over Huawei’s relationship with a company that shipped Huawei kit to Iran.

The kit contained US hardware and software, so both Huawei and Skycom, the intermediary, required US export licences, which were not available because of sanctions against Iran.

Though neither Huawei, nor Skycom, nor HSBC, nor the presumed Iranian telecoms customer are American companies, the US claimed to have authority, a case partly argued because the contract was in US dollars. The US said the deal broke US sanctions against trading with Iran, sanctions that were re-imposed in 2018 by Donald Trump’s administration after Trump cancelled the Iran nuclear deal.

The US had agreed not to prosecute Meng in September 2021 when she was flown home on an Air China charter flight.

Her lawyer, William W Taylor III, said then: “Under the terms of this agreement, she will not be prosecuted further in the United States and the extradition proceedings in Canada will be terminated. She has not pleaded guilty and we fully expect the indictment will be dismissed with prejudice after 14 months.”

Now, that 14-month period has expired, so the case against Meng has been dropped.

Huawei said then: “Huawei will continue to defend itself against the allegations in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.” Capacity has asked Huawei for an updated comment.