Huawei CFO Loses Bid for Freedom as Canadian Court Rules Extradition Case Must Continue

May 27, 2020 Updated: May 27, 2020

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou has lost a bid for freedom after a Canadian judge ruled against the defense—meaning the extradition trial in Canada will continue onto the next stage.

British Columbia’s Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes ruled that fraud charges against Meng met the extradition requirement of “double criminality,” a rule which states that the U.S. crime Meng is accused of committing also constitutes a crime in Canada.

Meng’s team had argued that the case should be thrown out because the offense was not a crime in Canada, as the country did not have sanctions against Iran like the United States did.

But Holmes disagreed.

“Ms. Meng’s approach … would seriously limit Canada’s ability to fulfill its international obligations in the extradition context for fraud and other economic crimes,” Holmes said in a  May 27 ruling.

The case will now proceed to the next phase in June, focusing on arguments around whether Canadian officials followed the law while arresting Meng. Closing arguments are expected in the last week of September and first week of October.

Meng, 48, who is also the daughter of the Chinese tech company’s CEO, was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018 at the request of the United States, where she is indicted on fraud charges.

U.S. federal prosecutors allege that Meng misled U.S.-based banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran, causing the banks to violate U.S. sanctions. They say she lied to bank representatives about Huawei’s relationship with an Iranian company, which was in fact a subsidiary of Huawei.

Shortly after the ruling was released, Meng arrived at the courthouse but made no comment. Her legal team maintains that she is innocent.

Meng’s case sparked an escalating diplomatic row between Canada and China. Days after her arrest, Chinese authorities detained two Canadians—former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor—on spying charges, in a move widely seen as retaliation. Beijing went on to restrict imports of Canadian canola seed, pork, and other agricultural products.

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Chinese regime had been linking the detention of the two Canadians and Meng’s case from the beginning, adding that Beijing didn’t understand Canada’s judicial system was independent and free from “political interference.”

“China doesn’t work quite the same way,” Trudeau said.

The U.S. indictment against Huawei and Meng also alleges that the firm stole trade secrets from other tech companies to grow its own business.

Prosecutors also allege that the company, through its local subsidiary Skycom, provided the Iranian government with surveillance technology that was used to monitor, identify, and detain protesters during anti-government demonstrations in Tehran in 2009.

U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that Huawei, the world’s largest supplier of telecom gear, poses a security risk to countries that use its equipment for next-generation 5G wireless networks. Their concerns stem from the company’s ties to the communist regime, as well as Chinese law that compels companies to cooperate with intelligence agencies when asked.

The United States last year put Huawei and 114 affiliates on a trade blacklist, barring U.S. firms from doing business with the company. It tightened these restrictions this month by blocking the company from being able to acquire from global chipmakers crucial semiconductors that power its smartphones and telecom gear.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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