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'Protesters' Demanding 'Free Meng' Weren't Really Protesters

At least 3 have now come forward saying they were paid for the gig
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2020 2:43 PM CST

(Newser) – On the first day of the first stage of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou's extradition hearing, more than a dozen apparent protesters were spotted outside the Vancouver courtroom holding signs bearing messages like "Free Ms. Meng" and "Trump stop bullying us." Only ... those weren't actually protesters. They were just people responding to an offer to earn some quick cash, the Guardian and the CBC report, and one says they were asked to return Friday when the hearing is expected to conclude. "I was contacted Sunday night regarding a job as a background performer for next morning," a Vancouver actress wrote in a Facebook post this week. Upon arrival, things like "getting ambiguous instructions about holding a sign and then immediately being approached by a journalist" alerted her suspicions.

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"Later that night there it was. Horrible reports all over media attacking my persona, my profession and professionalism," she writes. "And my name, face, social media and personal information all over FAKE NEWS...!" Another "protester" complained about the situation to the Toronto Star, saying she was paid $150 Canadian and that it was not clear what was going on until it was too late. And a third tells the Breaker he was promised $100 Canadian to appear in a music video. "It was like, when there was all these cameras, for a long time I believed it was filming a scene where someone was coming out of a car," he says. "So I was genuinely like, OK, fine to do this. Then reporters start showing up and, I don’t feel great about this anymore." It's not clear who was behind the stunt; Huawei claims it had nothing to do with it and the Chinese embassy has not commented. (Read more Meng Wanzhou stories.)

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