Canada approves extradition hearing against top Huawei executive

Ottawa says it will allow an extradition hearing to proceed against Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei.

    Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, attends the VTB Capital's 'RUSSIA CALLING' investment forum in Moscow [File: Mxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE]
    Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, attends the VTB Capital's 'RUSSIA CALLING' investment forum in Moscow [File: Mxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE]

    The Canadian government has said it would allow an extradition hearing to proceed against the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, who was arrested in Canada late last year.

    Meng Wanzhou, currently under house arrest, will appear in a Vancouver court on March 6 to set the date of the hearing. Meng and Huawei face US charges of conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran.

    "Today, Department of Justice Canada officials issued an authority to proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Ms Meng Wanzhou," the government said in a statement on Friday. "The department is satisfied that ... there is sufficient evidence to be put before an extradition judge for decision."

    Legal experts had predicted Ottawa would give the go-ahead, given the close judicial relationship between Canada and the United States.

    It could be years though before she is ever sent to the US, since Canada's slow-moving justice system allows many decisions to be appealed. 

    David Martin, Meng's lawyer, said in a statement, "We are disappointed that the Minister of Justice has decided to issue an Authority to Proceed in the face of the political nature of the US charges and where the President of the United States has repeatedly stated that he would interfere in Ms Meng's case if he thought it would assist the US negotiations with China over a trade deal."

    Canada-China relations

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    The decision is likely to sour Canada's already bad relations with China, which is demanding Meng be released.

    "The Chinese side is utterly dissatisfied," China's embassy in Ottawa said in a statement. "This is not a merely judicial case, but a political persecution against a Chinese high-tech enterprise. The subsequent developments have proved this. The so-called 'rule of law' and 'judicial independence' asserted by Canada cannot cover up the mistakes made by the Canadian side on the case of Meng Wanzhou."

    After her detention, China arrested two Canadians on national security grounds, and a Chinese court later sentenced to death a Canadian man who previously had only been jailed for drug smuggling.

    Canadian Justice Minister David Lametti declined to comment. 

    US President Donald Trump told Reuters news agency in December he would intervene if it served national security interests or helped close a trade deal with China, prompting Ottawa to stress the extradition process should not be politicised. Last week, Trump played down the idea of dropping the charges.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency