Huawei pleads not guilty in US case

An illuminated logo of Huawei in Barcelona, Spain. (Bloomberg pic)

VANCOUVER: Huawei Technologies pleaded not guilty to US charges of trade-secret theft, a day before the company learns if Canada will start extradition proceedings for its chief financial officer in a pivotal week that could see diplomatic tensions flare.

China’s biggest smartphone maker and its US affiliate appeared in federal court in Seattle this morning to answer to charges that they engaged in a scheme to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile US and also committed wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

The plea was entered before US District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez and a trial was scheduled for March 2, 2020.

The arraignment comes just a day before Canada’s deadline to decide whether to officially order the start of extradition hearings against Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who is wanted in the US on fraud charges.

In a separate indictment filed in Brooklyn, US prosecutors allege she lied to banks to trick them into processing transactions for Huawei that potentially violated Iran trade sanctions.

The two cases have intensified the spotlight on Huawei, which has come to symbolize China’s economic rise and challenge to the US’s status as the world’s top superpower.

In particular, the decision to prosecute Meng – daughter of billionaire Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei – has sparked an unprecedented diplomatic dispute, with Canada trapped in the middle.