The vice president of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, This week he has faced several hearings in the Vancouver court that will decide whether to accept the request for extradition from the United States, which accuses the Chinese telecommunications giant’s executive of allegedly violating the commercial sanctions imposed on Iran. Meng, 47, was arrested at Vancouver airport on December 1, 2018 and is under house arrest after paying a million dollar bail. Meng’s lawyers have based their opposition to the extradition on which the accusations against her do not fit the Canadian penal code, a condition for the delivery of the executive to the United States to be accepted. The Prosecutor’s Office has argued otherwise and advocates to follow the American petition, something that the judge must decide in the coming months Heather Holmes
Under Canadian extradition law, a person can be handed over to the authorities of another country only if the accusation also constitutes a crime in their criminal code. The Prosecutor’s Office argues that Meng is accused by the US of having lied to the HSBC bank in 2013 regarding the links between Huawei and the SkyCom company, which did business in Iran to circumvent US sanctions. For this reason, the public prosecutor affirms that Meng’s conduct has all the characteristics of a fraud, a crime sanctioned in Canada, taking into account the impact that false statements could have on the activities of the banking institution.
Instead, Richard Peck, one of Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers, has argued in court that “the crime that the United States argues is the violation of sanctions against Iran, not a fraud.” Ottawa lifted sanctions against Tehran in 2016, after the nuclear agreement with Iran was signed, from which the US withdrew after becoming President Donald Trump.
The case of the vice president of Huawei has strained relations between Canada and China. On Monday, when the hearings against Meng began, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his is “a country that is based on the rule of law,” rejecting, as he has repeatedly done, any political interference. For his part, Geng Shuang, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said Meng’s case is a serious political issue. “The United States and Canada are abusing their bilateral extradition treaty,” Geng said.
Trudeau completely ruled out Tuesday the proposal of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and several of his former collaborators on a possible exchange of prisoners to give another exit to Meng’s case. Specifically, the proposal would be to hand over the executive to the Chinese authorities so that Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, arrested by Beijing, regain freedom. “We will continue working with China directly to underline that we are a country of laws and will continue to act vigorously to ensure the return of the two detained Canadians,” Trudeau insisted.
Last month, in an interview with the Quebec TVA network, the Canadian Prime Minister also said that he had asked the United States not to conclude a free trade agreement with the Chinese while the Canadians remain incarcerated. Trudeau’s words were criticized by Beijing.
Huawei, meanwhile, has expressed its position regarding extradition hearings through Twitter: “We trust the judicial system in Canada, which will prove Mrs. Meng’s innocence. Huawei supports Mrs. Meng in her quest for justice and freedom. ”
This Thursday, at the end of the court appointments, Judge Holmes indicated that she needs time to analyze the arguments presented in order to issue a verdict on the first phase of the process, which must determine whether the crime charged to the executive in the US it is equivalent to another in Canadian law. If the judge considers that the requirements are not met, Meng could be released, unless the Prosecutor’s Office appealed, which would be foreseeable.
Since the case can be extended and there are other pending arguments, such as the defense’s allegations that the law was not complied with at the time of Meng’s arrest, the judge has advanced and has already set hearings for June. In any case, according to Canadian law, David Lametti, Canada’s attorney general and justice minister, has the power to suspend extradition at any time, even when Meng exhausts legal remedies.
Meng’s extradition process could take months or years, so relations between the Chinese and Canadians – with the United States in the background – will hardly return to normal soon. On the days of the hearings, several people demonstrated before the Vancouver court. The CBC network reported that two women claimed to have received money to demonstrate in favor of Meng.