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U.S. To Seek Huawei CFO Extradition: Report

Rising trade and political tensions between the U.S. and China, and long-term concerns by the U.S. about China's protection of intellectual property and the sale of sensitive IT equipment, are now higher than ever since the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

The U.S. Department of Justice is looking to have Huawei's Meng Wanzhou extradited to the U.S. in a case that has helped inflame tensions between the United States and China.

Meng, who is the global chief financial officer and a deputy chairperson of China-based Huawei and the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada in early December while transferring between air flights.

Her arrest at the time came at the request of the U.S. government, which was investigating the shipment of U.S.-made IT equipment to Iran made through a company that is allegedly a subsidiary of Huawei.

[Related: Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng Arrested In Canada]

The U.S. Department of Justice wants to extradite Meng from Canada, Reuters reported Tuesday. The extradition request came a day after the Canadian government was informed by the U.S. that the request was coming, Reuters said.

The arrest of Meng by the Canadian government, and now the extradition of her to the U.S., comes after a rise in tensions between the U.S. and China. The U.S. has accused China's government and China-based companies of illegally acquiring U.S. technology and of unfair trade practices, and the U.S. is retaliating with increasingly stiff tariffs on imports of Chinese-made goods.

In the weeks following the arrest of Meng, China arrested a number of Canadian citizens. One of those citizens, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, was this month sentenced to death for drug smuggling. He was sentenced in November to 15 years in prison as an accessory to drug smuggling, but after he appealed his conviction was in January sentenced to death for taking a primary role in the smuggling.

 

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The extradition request comes just a couple of weeks after another Huawei executive was arrested for spying. Weijing W., also known as Stanislaw Wang, Huawei's sales director in Poland, was this month arrested by Poland's Internal Security Agency and charged with espionage.

Huawei has been in U.S. government sights for years. The U.S. has long alleged that the company, one of the world's largest networking and telecommunications technology developers, of being too close to the Chinese government, concerns that has kept Huawei out of both government and enterprise accounts because of security implications. Huawei has consistently denied that it poses a security threat.

More recently, New York-based U.S. prosecutors have been investigating the possible violation of U.S. sanctions against selling U.S.-origin products to Iran. Meng in 2013 was linked to Skycom Tech, a Kong Kong-based company which in late 2010 offered to sell HP equipment worth at least $1.3 million euros to Iran-based Mobile Telecommunication Co. Huawei later said the HP equipment was ultimately not provided to Iran either by Huawei or Skycom, Reuters said.

Meng at one time served as Skycom's company secretary. Skycom was a major partner of Huawei during the time of the alleged sale of HP equipment to Iran.

Meng, who has in the past gone by the name Cathy Meng, is referred to on Huawei's corporate website as Sabrina Meng.

The U.S. Department of Justice did not respond to a further request for information from CRN by press time.

A Huawei spokesperson, in a statement emailed to CRN, wrote, "We are aware of the report in question and are closely monitoring the situation. Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including export control and sanction laws of the UN, US, and EU. We have every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach a just conclusion."

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