VANCOUVER—Something seemed off to Julia Hackstaff when an actor playing a reporter started asking her pointed questions about the protest sign she was holding.
Hackstaff had been hired as an extra for what seemed to be a poorly-organized production Monday and she hadnt been briefed on her lines for the scene.
“The way this reporter was asking stuff, it kind of dawned on me, OK this person is obviously not acting,” Hackstaff said.
The 32-year-old actor said she now realizes she was scammed into participating in a protest in favour of Meng.
“The thought of it being a real protest only came at the end, when I decided to leave. Beforehand I was just trying to understand what kind of production this was, how come we werent given information,” she said.
“I thought, this is very poorly planned.”
Its unclear who was behind the protest-for-hire and Hackstaff says she left right away without being paid.
No one from the consulate general of the Peoples Republic of China in Vancouver could be reached for comment.
Benjamin Howes, a spokesman in Huaweis international media affairs department, says in an email the company had no involvement with the protesters or supporters outside the courthouse.
The arrest of Meng in Vancouver in 2018 and the U.S. extradition request has severely strained Canada-China relations.
Protesters have periodically gathered outside the B.C. Supreme Court for hearings leading up to the start of Mengs extradition hearing this week. Some have spoken out against the Chinese government, while others have held signs calling for the Huawei executives released.
On Monday, Hackstaff was among half a dozen who carried red signs that read “Free Ms. Meng” and “Equal Justice.”
She said it began with an offer on Facebook Sunday night from an acquaintance who said Hackstaff would be paid $100 for a two-hour gig. Hackstaff said she believes the man, whom she declined to name, was also duped into taking part.
Its common for these offers to come in at the last minute so it didnt seem unusual, she said. She was given an address, then redirected to a hotel lobby and when she finally arrived at the courthouse, shRead More – Source