WASHINGTON - The US Justice Department on Friday dropped all charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was held by Canada on a US warrant for Iran sanctions-related charges for nearly three years.
Ms Meng, who had fought extradition to the United States while Ottawa struggled with China’s alleged retaliatory arrest of two Canadians, was freed in 2021 after reaching a deferred prosecution agreement with US authorities.
The Justice Department said on Friday that she had completed the period of the agreement without violating it, and so the charges were fully dropped and could not be revisited.
The case became a major thorn in relations between China and both Canada and the United States.
Ms Meng, the 50-year-old daughter of Mr Ren Zhengfei, the billionaire founder of the Chinese telecoms giant, was Huawei’s chief financial officer when she was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018.
The United States had sought her arrest for wire fraud and deceiving HSBC bank, relating to her alleged efforts to hide violations of US sanctions on Iran by Huawei affiliate Skycom.
During the same period that Ms Meng was held under house arrest, Washington intensified a campaign against the use of Huawei equipment in the United States and allies, saying it posed deep security threats.
Meanwhile, China arrested and held two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – forcing talks on what became labelled “hostage diplomacy.”
The US deferred prosecution deal and the release and repatriation of Ms Meng and the two Canadians came in a tightly arranged series of actions in September last year.
But that did not end the US pressure to exclude Huawei, one of the world’s largest suppliers of networking and 5G technology, from the markets and systems of allies.
US authorities say that Huawei equipment could provide China’s intelligence apparatus backdoor access to rivals’ telecommunications networks.
The United States banned Huawei equipment in government use and discouraged its use in the commercial market.
In May this year, Canada banned Huawei equipment from its 5G network. AFP