Live Updates: U.S. Reaches Agreement to Release Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou

ImageMeng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, leaving home in August to attend an extradition hearing in Vancouver.
Credit…Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

The Justice Department has reached an agreement that will allow Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, to return to China in exchange for admitting some wrongdoing in a sanctions violation case, a person familiar with the deal said on Friday.

Ms. Meng, who has been detained in Canada since 2018, has agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement that is expected to be entered in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday afternoon.

Ms. Meng will ad­mit to some wrong­do­ing, and federal prosecutors will defer and then ultimately drop the charges against her, the person said. ­As part of the agreement, she will not enter a guilty plea.

The Canadian authorities arrested Ms. Meng, 49, the technology giant’s chief financial officer, in December 2018 at Vancouver International Airport, at the request of the United States. Ms. Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder and chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, instantly became one of the world’s most famous detainees.

The Justice Department indicted Ms. Meng and Huawei, the telecom company founded by her father, Ren Zhengfei, in January 2018. It accused the firm and its chief financial officer of a decade-long effort to steal trade secrets, obstruct a criminal investigation and evade economic sanctions on Iran.

The charges underscored efforts by the Trump administration to directly link Huawei with the Chinese government, after long suspecting that the company worked to advance Beijing’s economic and political ambitions and undermine American interests.

Her arrest had thrust Canada into the middle of a battle between two global superpowers.

The deal to release Ms. Meng could signal a more conciliatory approach in Washington’s stance toward Beijing under the Biden administration.

If it leads to the release of two Canadians imprisoned in China, it could also provide a lift to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, who was re-elected this week with a minority government after calling an unpopular snap election. Mr. Trudeau’s inability to secure their freedom has cast a shadow over his premiership.

China detained the two imprisoned Canadians, the former diplomat Michael Kovrig and the businessman Michael Spavor, soon after Ms. Meng’s arrest, in what has been widely viewed in Canada as hostage diplomacy. In August, a court in northeastern China, where Mr. Spavor has lived, sentenced him to 11 years in prison after declaring him guilty of spying.

Throughout her extradition hearing in Canada, Ms. Meng’s defense team professed her innocence. They argued that President Donald J. Trump had politicized her case and that her rights had been breached when she was arrested in Vancouver.

Credit…Jesse Winter/Reuters

As news rippled across the world that the technology executive Meng Wanzhou could soon be free to return to China, a large scrum of journalists and passers-by assembled outside the seven-room gated mansion in Vancouver’s exclusive Shaughnessy neighborhood where one of the world’s most famous detainees has lived.

Speculation was swirling among the crowd: Was there a plane waiting at the airport to whisk her away? Assuming that she was freed, where and when would the GPS tracker around her ankle — a condition of her bail — be removed? And would Ms. Meng, 49, say something about the end of her detention?

At around 9:15 a.m. Vancouver time, Ms. Meng left the mansion surrounded by security guards and was whisked into a large black S.U.V.

“Good morning, good morning, everyone,” she said before the car sped away.

During the years Ms. Meng has been detained, many Canadians have been dismissive of her. Under the terms of her bail of 10 million Canadian dollars, she is allowed to leave her house until an 11 p.m. curfew, including traveling to Richmond, a nearby city with a vibrant Chinese community, dim sum restaurants and sprawling shopping malls selling designer purses.

Nevertheless, Ms. Meng has kept a relatively low profile, dining at a restaurant with her family on at least one occasion and going on shopping trips. On one occasion she bought pizza for journalists gathered outside another mansion where she was living.

Under the terms of her bail, Ms. Meng pays for a team of guards from Lions Gate Risk Management Group, a private security firm, which has monitored her and kept tabs on everyone entering and leaving her house.

In a city obsessed with fitness, those who initially offered collateral to facilitate her bail included a part-time yoga instructor and the real estate agent who sold Ms. Meng and her husband their two sprawling homes.

Credit…Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

When Meng Wanzhou was arrested by the Canadian authorities in the Vancouver airport while changing flights December 2018, she suddenly became one of the world’s most famous detainees.

Her arrest — made at the United States’ request for her extradition on fraud charges — provoked a storm of recriminations from China, landed Ms. Meng in legal limbo, and put Canada in the middle of a fight between two world powers.

Ms. Meng has been a public face of Huawei. She began her career there more than 25 years ago and rose to become one of the company’s top executives, with responsibilities that included announcing its financial results.

Here is what to know about the Chinese tech executive.

Who is Meng Wanzhou?

A polished executive, Ms. Meng, is the chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant Huawei and the eldest daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei.

Ms. Meng, (pronounced ‘MUNG’), who also uses the names Sabrina and Cathy, was born in the western city of Chengdu. A high school dropout, she went on to get a master’s degree, and began at Huawei as a secretary.

Ms. Meng was an important figure at Huawei as it rapidly expanded: Her job included speaking at public events around the world.

She was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of the United States, which asked for her extradition and accused her of fraud. Her detainment prompted an outpouring of support in China, where many people saw her as a hostage.

What is the case against her?

Huawei has become the world’s largest supplier of the equipment that underlies the world’s wireless networks. The United States has repeatedly accused the company of stealing technology from its Western rivals and says that its close ties to the Chinese government make it a threat to national security.

In January 2019, the United States unveiled a sweeping indictment that, among other things, accused Ms. Meng of fraudulently deceiving four banks so that Huawei could evade American sanctions against Iran.

It also accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and obstructing a criminal investigation into what it said was the company’s effort to avoid those sanctions by destroying or concealing evidence.

How did the case affect Canada-Chinese relations?

From the day of Ms. Meng’s arrest, Canada has said it was legally bound to detain her at the request of its ally. Beijing saw things differently.

Shortly after her arrest, the Chinese authorities arrested two Canadians, Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman. Just days after Canada approved Ms. Meng’s extradition hearing, the Chinese government accused them of espionage.

The two men have been held in secret detention sites in China with no access to lawyers or visits from their families. A third Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, was sentenced to death in January 2019 after being convicted on charges of drug smuggling.

All three cases caused alarm in Canada, where many pointed to Ms. Meng’s comparatively cushy detainment.

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