The Justice Department on Friday struck a deal clearing the way for Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou to return to China in exchange for admitting wrongdoing in a fraud case.
Ms Meng, who has been detained in Canada since 2018, has agreed to a deal whereby federal prosecutors will postpone and then ultimately drop the charges against her. The deal was reached in a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday.
The case has become a symbol of the tumultuous relationship between two global superpowers, the United States and China, which is at its lowest level in decades. It also created a diplomatic challenge that put Canada in the middle.
The deal with Ms Meng will alleviate a big irritant in US-China relations.
Canadian authorities arrested Ms. Meng, 49, chief financial officer of the tech giant, in December 2018 at Vancouver International Airport, at the request of the United States. Ms. Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder and general manager Ren Zhengfei, instantly became one of the world’s most famous inmates.
In January 2019, the Justice Ministry indicted Ms. Meng and Huawei, the telecommunications company founded by her father, Ren Zhengfei. He accused the company and its chief financial officer of a ten-year effort to steal trade secrets, obstruct a criminal investigation and evade economic sanctions against Iran.
The charges highlighted the Trump administration’s efforts to link Huawei directly to the Chinese government, after long suspecting the company was working to advance Beijing’s economic and political ambitions and undermine U.S. interests.
Ms. Meng’s release could affect the fate of two Canadians imprisoned in China.
China detained former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor soon after Ms Meng’s arrest in what was widely viewed in Canada as hostage diplomacy. China denied they were connected. In August, a court in northeast China, where Mr. Spavor lived, sentenced him to 11 years in prison after convicting him of espionage.
If both men are released, it could give Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a boost, who was re-elected this week with a minority government after calling an unpopular snap election. Mr. Trudeau’s inability to guarantee their freedom has cast a shadow over his tenure as prime minister.
Throughout her extradition hearing in Canada, Ms. Meng’s defense team proclaimed her innocence. They argued that President Donald J. Trump politicized his case and that his rights were violated when he was arrested in Vancouver.
Judge Ann M. Donnelly said at the hearing that Ms. Meng was charged with Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Wire Fraud. Ms. Meng, who appeared by video conference for Friday’s hearing, smiled and nodded in response.
Prosecutors said that under the deferral of prosecution agreement, the Justice Department would withdraw her extradition request to Canadian authorities, paving the way for her release on condition that she abides by the terms of the OK. They said the charges would be dropped on December 1, 2022.
Nicole Boeckmann, acting US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement Ms Meng had “taken responsibility” for her role in the fraudulent deception of a global financial institution into doing business with a subsidiary of Huawei in Iran in violation of US laws. law.
She did not name the bank, but the extradition proceedings against Ms Meng in Vancouver identified HSBC as the main institution in question.
She said prosecutors would continue to pursue their case against Huawei. “We are eager to prove our case against the company in court,” she said.
In an interview, Michelle Lebin, a member of Ms. Meng’s defense team, said that she was very happy that “Ms. Meng. Meng is free to return home and be with her family.
While waiting for her case to begin, Ms Meng was seen on a television screen in Brooklyn courthouse, sitting in her attorney’s office in Vancouver, sipping tea, a large diamond ring glittering on her left hand.