Huawei CFO's US extradition case begins final weeks of hearings in Canadian court

Meng Wanzhou remains under house arrest in Vancouver

Lawyers appearing in a Canadian court for Meng Wanzhou on Wednesday hoped to prevent the extradition of the Huawei chief financial officer, calling into question the reliability of information provided by the US in its request.

Ms Meng, 49, was arrested in December 2018 at Vancouver International Airport on a warrant issued from the US, charging her with fraud and using a shell company to cover Huawei's business dealings in Iran. Ms Meng, who denies the allegations, has been fighting her extradition from under house arrest in Vancouver with the legal proceedings lasting more than two years.

The extradition hearings, expected to close on August 20, will focus on the third part of her lawyers' arguments, specifically that US prosecutors materially misrepresented the case against her in their extradition request to Canada.

On Wednesday, defence lawyer Mona Duckett told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes in the British Columbia Supreme Court that there was no way of knowing “if the wool has been pulled over [her] eyes” by the US in their request for Ms Meng's extradition. Ms Duckett went on to call Canada's 1999 Extradition Act “young".

After this stage is completed, hearings will then move to the remedy stage, which will address Ms Meng's allegations that abuses of process occurred during her arrest. After that, a committal hearing, to determine whether there is sufficient evidence against Ms Meng for her to stand trial, will take place.

A representative for Canada's Department of Justice said on Tuesday that Ms Meng will continue to be afforded a fair process in accordance with Canadian law.

Representatives for Huawei said in a statement on Wednesday that the company “remains confident” in Ms Meng's innocence, and added that it will continue to support her defence.

In the days following Ms Meng's arrest, which immediately caused a chill in relations between Ottawa and Beijing, China detained two Canadians — Michael Spavor, a businessman, and Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat. Ottawa has repeatedly pressed US officials for help in pressuring China to release the men.

The context of the separate case has “changed significantly” since Joe Biden became US president in January of this year, said Lynette Ong, an associate professor at the University of Toronto and expert on China.

Mr Biden's return to more traditional modes of diplomacy means that Canada can rely on the US to stand up for the two Canadians in ways it could not under former president Donald Trump, Prof Ong said.

“Friends have to look out for each other's interests in the Biden era, which wasn't the case during Trump — it was very much a unilateral aggressive approach,” Prof Ong said.

Updated: August 5th 2021, 12:30 AM
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