John Bolton says he would be happy to testify in Canada about the Huawei executive’s extradition case

Of particular interest are the revelations in which Bolton writes that Trump connected the Meng case with a possible U.S. trade deal with China.

During an interview broadcast on Friday, Bolton rejected the idea that politics is involved in the case against Meng, who is based on fraud charges related to his alleged violation of US sanctions against Iran.

“Look, the facts are the facts, and I think when you read the book it becomes very clear what the purpose of the arrest was,” Bolton told “The Current” of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

“He had no political motivation and would be very happy to testify to that effect in a Canadian court.”

Acting on a US extradition order, Canadian police arrested Meng at the Vancouver airport in December 2018. Canada’s arrest of the daughter of the founder of Huawei angered China, which demanded her immediate release.

China also halted some key Canadian agricultural exports and, in apparent retaliation days after Meng’s arrest, detained two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Last week they were formally charged with espionage.

The case has propelled medium-power Canada into the heart of a broader battle between the United States and China.

In his book, Bolton writes that Trump viewed the concerns raised by his advisers about Huawei and the telecommunications firm ZTE as threats to national security as “an opportunity to make personal gestures at” Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“In 2018, for example, it revoked the sanctions that [Wilbur] Ross and the Commerce Department had imposed on ZTE, “Bolton wrote in his memoirs titled” The Room Where It Happened. “

“In 2019, he offered to reverse criminal prosecution against Huawei if that helped in the trade deal, which, of course, was primarily about achieving Trump’s reelection in 2020.”

Trump has condemned Bolton’s book as “pure fiction” and “a compilation of lies and made-up stories.”

Bolton told CBC that, in his opinion, and said he believes it is the opinion that other Trump advisers also have, “that this type of criminal prosecution should not be used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations.”

“But what bothered me was the president’s tendency to engage in criminal proceedings to effectively give personal favors to the dictators with whom he was trying to improve his relationship,” Bolton said.

“And I think it is a mistake. I think it calls into question the impartiality of the American police and the seriousness with which we take violations, in this case, of sanctions against Iran and financial fraud. “

Trump himself has made similar public statements about the Meng case. During a 2018 interview, Trump said he would be willing to step in if that helped the United States strike a trade deal with China or serve other American national security interests.

A source close to Meng’s defense said the new information in Bolton’s book will be examined and could be used in court to strengthen arguments that Trump’s reflections after his arrest have tainted his extradition case with politics. But the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter in public, added that it remains to be seen whether and how the defense could even use the new details in the courtroom.

The case has created complications for Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the Canadians’ arrests arbitrary, and insisted that Chinese officials admitted that there is a direct link between their cases and Meng’s arrest.

But on Thursday Trudeau rejected calls from 19 distinguished Canadians to halt Meng’s extradition procedures, even if this would help secure the freedom of Kovrig and Spavor, who have been behind bars in China for more than 560 days.

Beijing, which called Canada an American accomplice in what it calls its case on political charges, appeared to open the door on Wednesday to an exchange of prisoners: Meng in exchange for the two Canadians. Trudeau rejected the idea of ​​an exchange, arguing that Canada will allow the process to proceed independently of any political pressure.

“We will continue to be firm and strong and we will say very clearly in our actions and in our words that arresting Canadians at random does not give you influence over the government of Canada anywhere in the world,” he said.

Bolton told the radio interviewer that Canada has so far kept its part under the extradition treaty.

“And the Chinese have responded authoritatively: they have arbitrarily arrested Canadian citizens,” he said. “But keep this in mind: This is how China behaves when it is not dominant in the world and if it does not face this type of behavior now, what will China be like as China grows in economic strength?”

Donald Bayne, an Ottawa lawyer with extensive experience in extradition cases, said in a recent interview that he is confident that Meng’s legal team will explore the use of Bolton’s book in court.

“As a defense attorney, he doesn’t close avenues, he explores them – all he can to help his client,” said Bayne, who represents the Kovrig family.

But Bayne said last week that Bolton’s allegations raise evidentiary issues, including the fact that the former White House adviser cannot easily be forced to testify in Canada.