World News (February 15, 2021)


LONDON (AP) — Huawei took U.K. bank HSBC to court to get it to hand over documents, in a new legal maneuver by the Chinese technology company fighting to stop its chief financial officer from being extradited to the U.S. from Canada.

Huawei applied at the U.K. High Court for records it believes will show Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou didn’t mislead the bank about evading sanctions on Iran, as U.S. authorities allege.

The legal request further complicates the geopolitical battle over Meng’s case. It also adds to pressure faced by London-based HSBC, which earns much of its revenue in China.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was detained in December 2018 on a U.S. request as she was changing flights in Vancouver. The U.S. government accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell telecommunications equipment to Iran. Meng is fighting extradition to the U.S. where she is charged with committing fraud by misleading HSBC about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

Huawei’s legal case focuses on an August 2013 PowerPoint presentation Meng gave to a senior HSBC executive in Hong Kong that detailed the company’s relationship with Skycom and its compliance efforts.

Meng’s legal team has accused the U.S. of using a misleading summary of the meeting that cherrypicked selected slides. They are seeking the entire PowerPoint presentation, which they say shows Meng explained the relationship between Huawei and Skycom.

The company also wants the records to better understand who at the bank knew about the meeting and what was discussed.

“In order for her to have a fair hearing in Canada, she needs these documents,” Huawei’s lawyer, James Lewis, said at the hearing. He said U.S. authorities have refused to provide them but nothing prevents her defense from using them “if she can obtain them independently of disclosure by the U.S. prosecutor.”

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Biden administration announced plans for tens of thousands of people who are seeking asylum and have been forced to wait in Mexico under a Trump-era policy to be allowed into the U.S. while their cases wind through immigration courts.

The first wave of an estimated 25,000 asylum-seekers with active cases in the “Remain in Mexico” program will be allowed into the United States on Feb. 19, authorities said. They plan to start slowly, with two border crossings each processing up to 300 people a day and a third crossing taking fewer numbers. Officials with President Joe Biden’s administration declined to name them out of fear they may encourage a rush of people.

The move is a major step toward dismantling one of former President Donald Trump’s most consequential policies to deter asylum-seekers from coming to the U.S. About 70,000 asylum-seekers were enrolled in the program officially called Migrant Protection Protocols since it was introduced in January 2019.

On Biden’s first day in office, the Homeland Security Department suspended the policy for new arrivals. Since then, some asylum-seekers picked up at the border have been released in the U.S. with notices to appear in court.

Biden is quickly making good on a campaign promise to end the policy, which the Trump administration said was critical to reversing a surge of asylum-seekers that peaked in 2019. But the policy also exposed people to violence in Mexican border cities and made it extremely difficult for them to find lawyers and communicate with courts about their cases.

TOKYO (AP) — Yoshiro Mori resigned as the President of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee after sexist comments made last week in which he said women “talk too much.”

The resignation of the former Japanese prime minister at an executive board meeting has left a mess in its wake. And it comes just over five months before the postponed Olympics are to open in the middle of a pandemic with public sentiment overwhelmingly against the games.

The executive board did not immediately choose a successor for Mori, which CEO Toshiro Muto said would come “as soon as possible” and will be made by a review committee. He called it a “single-digit body” made up equally of men and women, and he repeatedly declined to give a specific time frame.

Muto also declined to say if Mori’s replacement would be a woman. Gender inequality in Japan is exactly the issue that was raised last week by Mori’s demeaning comments, and what drove his ouster. Women are largely absent in the boardroom and in top politics in Japan, and Muto acknowledged that the organizing committee has too few women in leadership roles, and no women at the vice president level.

“For myself in selecting the president, I don’t think we need to discuss or debate gender,” Muto said. “We simply need to choose the right person.”

The front runner is probably Seiko Hashimoto, the current government Olympic minister who was also a bronze medalist in speedskating in the 1992 Albertville Games. She fits all the bills — female, a former Olympian, and she’s been around the organizing committee.

On Thursday, 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi, the former head of the governing body of Japanese soccer, gave interviews and said he had talked with the 83-year-old Mori and was likely to be his successor.

That news — that another elderly man was taking over — exploded Friday morning on national television and social media. A few hours later, Kawabuchi withdrew his candidacy at the board meeting and told Muto to make it public.