Someone paid protesters to show up at the Huawei CFO's extradition hearing and pretend they support her

Huawei fake protest paid actors Meng Wanzhou

  • Two women say they were duped into protesting in favor of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at an extradition hearing in Vancouver, Canada.
  • They said they were offered between 100 and 150 Canadian dollars to show up and hold signs, along with around 20 others.
  • Both said they didn’t realize what they were being asked to do, and regret it.
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Unsuspecting members of the public in Canada appear to have been paid by an unknown organization to pretend to be supporters of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at her recent extradition hearing.

Two members of a crowd of about 20 say they were given money to hold signs and participate in a protest while Wanzhou tried to avoid being extradited to the US on fraud charges.

Meng Wanzhou Huawei trial fake protest

According to the participants who spoke out, they and others in the group were assembled at the British Columbia Superior Court in Vancouver, and told to hold up signs saying “Free Ms Meng” and “Trump Stop Bullying.”

One participant, an actor called Julia Hackstaff, said she was conned into believing she was playing the role of a protester, without realizing it was a real event. She described her experience in a Facebook post the following day


A second, warehouse worker Ken Bonson, said she was told a vague story about “something to do with a protest” the next morning. She told her story to the Toronto Star newspaper.

Hackstaff said she was offered 100 Canadian dollars ($76), while Bonson said she and a friend were both offered 150 ($114).

Neither realized what was going on until they showed up, were given pre-written signs, and expected to act like supporters of Wanzhou. Neither knows who was ultimately footing the bill. Huawei has denied involvement.

Georgina Smyth, a reporter for the Canada’s CBC News, said there was “something very strange” about the protest, since nobody wanted to discuss Meng’s case and did not like answering questions.


On Facebook, Hackstaff said she was “victim of a filthy cheap scam that has deeply hurt me.” She said she left after five minutes and didn’t get paid.

Bonson says she did get paid, but felt bad about keeping the money so gave it to her partner. She said she was offered another payment to go back a different day, but declined.

She told the Star: “I’m honestly pretty ashamed and embarrassed and wish I never went… I want this to be something I can put behind me.”

Meng, whose father is Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, has been detained in Canada since late 2018. She is accused of defrauding the bank HSBC by lying about the purpose of a shell company that did business with Iran, defying US sanctions.

Canadian authorities arrested her while she was trying to change flights in Vancouver, on the request of the US government. The court hearing this week is Meng’s chance to convince Canada not to extradite her.

Lawyers for Meng argued that she is really wanted for breaking US sanctions, which is not a crime in Canada, and therefore means she should be let go.

Canadian government lawyers argue that the heart of her case is fraud, which is also illegal in Canada.

On Thursday the case ended without immediate resolution. According to the Associated Press, the judge in the case said she would announce a decision at an unspecified later date.

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