Actor says she was conned into protesting Huawei extradition

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A Vancouver actor said Wednesday she was tricked into holding a protest sign outside the court where an extradition hearing is underway for a top executive at the Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Julia Hackstaff said an acquaintance reached out to her on Facebook offering $100 for a two-hour acting job.

She said she arrived at the given address Monday morning, then was sent to the British Columbia Supreme Court where she was told to hold a sign in support of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who is the daughter of Huawei's founder.

Hackstaff said she thought it was a poorly organized production until a reporter started asking her pointed questions and she realized she wasn't dealing with another actor.

It's unclear who was behind the protest for hire.

Hackstaff said she left right away without being paid and believes the acquaintance who contacted her was also a victim of the ruse.

Huawei spokesman Benjamin Howes said in an email that the company had no involvement with the protesters or supporters outside the courthouse. China's embassy in Ottawa didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

A group of young people held up red signs that said things like “Free Ms. Meng." They declined to talk about the case when asked and refused to answer when asked who paid them.

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