Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou seen in front of one of her Vancouver mansions on Sept 25, 2019. She is being held under partial house arrest. Just days later two Canadians were imprisoned in China in near torture conditions with limited consular access on alleged espionage charges. Those arrests are widely seen as retribution for Meng's detention (Darryl Dyck-CP)

Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou wants court-ordered security eased

The ongoing hearings for top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou heard a new request yesterday during court proceedings in Vancouver.

The Chief Financial Officer for China’s Huawei Technologies has been fighting a U.S extradition request for two years on charges of fraud.

Detained during a flight stopover in Vancouver she was later released on bail under house arrest. She has been living in one of her two Vancouver mansions and is allowed to move about the region any time between 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and anywhere within about a 160 square kilometre limit. She must also be accompanied by court ordered security guards and wear a GPS monitoring bracelet.

Apparently thinking a court decision on the merits of the U.S extradition case would be in her favour and that she would be freed, Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou and her friends and family flash peace signs as they stand on the steps of the B.C. Supreme Court in May. Despite her professed health concerns about catching COVID from the court-ordered security detail, none of those present in May were physically distancing. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The court heard a new request this week that she not be required to be escorted by security guards. Her claim is that being in close proximity to rotating security personnel puts her at risk of a COVID infection.

The court heard however some little known facts about Meng’s lifestyle under house arrest.

It was revealed that Meng has made frequent shopping trips to high-end stores downtown and has had large private gatherings in restaurants and visits by a masseuse. She is also often in the company of many others outside the family ‘bubble’ including visits from other employees of the Chinese electronics giant, and by Chinese consulate staff.

Court heard that an entire Boeing 777 had been chartered to whisk Meng back to China had she been released in May. ( Boeing)

She was also joined by her husband  who flew in from Hong Kong last October and who immediately joined her instead of staying quarantined apart for two weeks as required. In December the same situation occurred when her 18-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter came to Vancouver.

The head of the court appointed security firm said on the other hand that his personnel were concerned for their own health safety due to Meng’s behaviour.

Doug Maynard also said that in terms of security, a foreign government may try to extract her or that she may be targeted by organized crime, and that those risks have increased as time has dragged on. This may be related to the fact that the Chinese consulate had chartered a huge jet to whisk her immediately back to China during an earlier court case that may have freed her.

In photos which have now become well-known to Canadians, Michael Spavor, left, and Michael Kovrig were taken into custody in China in December 2018, shortly after Meng was detained at Vancouver International Airport. The arrests have been characterized as” hostage diplomacy” in retaliation for Meng’s detention. They face charges of spying. While their prison conditions have been classed as very harsh, the Vancouver court heard of Meng’s comfortable lifestyle under house arrest (The Associated Press/International Crisis Group/The Canadian Press)

While the court heard of Meng Wanzhou’s easy bail conditions and lavish lifestyle, others have compared this comfortable living with that of two Canadians in China who were arrested within days of Meng’s detention in Canada allegedly on spying charges.

In what has been labeled as “hostage diplomacy”, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, former diplomat and businessman respectively, have been kept in prisons in harsh conditions in cells where lights are never turned off, and while being interrogated frequently. They were also denied consular visits for months in violation of international treaties.

The Vancouver court in hearing the testimony on Tuesday said Meng’s conditions were reasonable as is.

Meng Wanzhou’s extradition trial is set to resume at the beginning of March with final hearings possibly in late April or May.

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