National security advisor John Bolton reportedly said Thursday that « I knew in advance » from the Justice Department that giant smartphone maker Huawei’s global CFO Meng Wanzhou would be arrested in Vancouver, Canada, at the behest of U.S. authorities — but didn’t reveal if President Donald Trump also knew.
Bolton also said in an interview with National Public Radio set to air later Thursday that « Huawei is one company we’ve been concerned about » because of issues related to intellectual property theft and dealings with Iran.
Bolton would not give details of the crime or crimes that U.S. federal prosecutors are alleging against Meng, the 46-year-old daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, according to NPR.
Nor would he say whether Trump was aware in advance that Meng would be arrested Saturday, the same day that Trump and Bolton dined with China’s leader Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. The White House did not immediate respond to CNBC’s query about whether Trump did know.
The arrest has infuriated Chinese officials, who have demanded Meng’s release, even as the Justice Department seeks her extradition to the United States.
The case also has further roiled an already strained trade relationship between the U.S. and China. The countries last week struck a 90-day truce in their trade squabble.
A person familiar with the matter told Reuters that Meng’s arrest is related to violations of U.S. sanctions. Iran is currently the subject of U.S. sanctions.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said that Meng’s arrest was « for breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran. »
A court hearing on possible bail for Meng is scheduled for Friday.
Huawei said in a statement to The Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada that Meng faces « unspecified charges » in the Eastern District of New York, and that she was arrested when she was transferring flights.
« The company has been provided with very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng, » the statement said. « The company believes the Canadian and U.S. legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion. »
Huawei also said the the company « complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws. »
Also Thursday, Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and committee member Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said they have urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau « to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance. »
In a joint press release, the senators said, « The entry of Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies like Huawei into the Canadian market could seriously jeopardize the relationship between U.S. and Canadian carriers, depriving North American operators of the scale needed to rapidly build out 5G networks. »