By Moira Warburton
TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadian prosecutors will ask a court to disregard a former U.S. government lawyer’s affidavit submitted by Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s legal team in her U.S. extradition case, arguing it is “irrelevant” and “unnecessary,” documents released on Wednesday showed.
The affidavit was submitted in July in which Michael Gottlieb, who was a White House lawyer under President Barack Obama, testified that U.S. President Donald Trump had departed from longstanding legal policies designed to promote the “impartial administration of justice,” with his comments that he was willing to use Meng as a bargaining chip in trade talks with China.
Meng’s lawyers have argued that the extradition should be thrown out in part because the case against her in the United States is tainted by political interference, pointing to comments from Trump about her extradition.
She was arrested in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States. She is facing charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
Meng, 48, has said she is innocent and is fighting the extradition while under house arrest in Vancouver.
In a submission dated Nov. 3, prosecutors asserted that Gottlieb’s evidence should be struck from the record arguing that it is “inadmissible expert opinion evidence” that is “irrelevant” and “unnecessary” to Meng’s case.
“The key factual matters arising from (Meng’s) allegations are whether certain statements by foreign officials have … prejudiced the integrity of the Canadian justice system,” prosecutors wrote.
Gottlieb’s testimony would ask the court to “determine not only whether foreign officials have complied with foreign legal principles” but also “review their conduct in light of internal governmental policies and norms.
“This Court lacks the expertise to engage in such an inquiry,” prosecutors wrote.
The prosecutors are set make the request in the British Columbia Supreme Court on Monday, when witness testimony in the case resumes.
Gottlieb is a partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in Washington.
Huawei officials were not available for an immediate comment.
Prosecutors have accused Meng’s lawyers of trying to litigate the case against her in the United States in the Canadian court, which Meng’s lawyers have denied.
The extradition case is scheduled to wrap up in April 2021, although the potential for appeals on either side means the case could drag on for years.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Denny Thomas and Grant McCool)