Canada judge rejects Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's request for looser bail terms

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves court in Vancouver

By Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou's request to loosen the bail terms set during her release from jail in 2018 has been rejected, a Canadian judge ruled on Friday, as she fights a U.S. extradition case.

Meng is facing charges of bank fraud in the United States for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei's business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to violate U.S. sanctions.

She has been under house arrest in Vancouver, Canada, since her arrest at the airport there in December 2018.

Her arrest caused a chill in relations between Beijing and Ottawa, and soon afterwards China detained two Canadians, who continue to have limited access to legal counsel or diplomatic officials.

Under the 2018 bail terms, Meng is permitted to leave her home in an upscale Vancouver neighbourhood during the day but must be escorted by a security detail at all times.

Meng asked a court to allow her to drop the daytime security detail, pointing to health conditions that she said made her more susceptible to COVID-19 and noting that she has not broken any of her bail conditions in two years.

Prosecutors for the Canadian government were against the change, arguing she should be considered a flight risk.

On Friday British Columbia Supreme Court Justice William Ehrcke dismissed her request, stating that "the current bail conditions are the minimum required to mitigate Ms. Meng's risk of flight to an acceptable level."

"At the time the order was made it was expected she would comply with it. The fact that she has done so is not a material change in circumstances," Ehrcke said.

He said Meng's lawyers did not present medical evidence that she is "more vulnerable than most other 48-year-old women" to be infected with the coronavirus.

Meng will next appear in court on March 1 for the last stage of her extradition hearings, which are scheduled to finish in May.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver, Editing by Franklin Paul and Sonya Hepinstall)