Huawei’s CFO Suffers Extradition Setback

Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Hauwei’s founder and CFO of the firm, suffers legal setback in fight against extradition to the United States

Huawei chief financial officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou has lost a legal battle in a Canadian courtroom, as she fights her extradition to the United States.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes ruled Wednesday in British Columbia’s Supreme Court in Vancouver, that Wanzhou’s extradition to the United States can go forward.

Meng Wanzhou had been arrested by Canadian authorities at Vancouver airport in December 2018 for alleged sanction busting with Iran and misleading banks, charges which she denies.

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Wanzhou ruling

Wanzhou’s legal team had argued that her extradition to the US fails to meet the Canadian standard of double criminality.

This double criminality standard means the alleged conduct for which Meng was arrested in 2018 has to be illegal in both countries (i.e. the US and Canada) for her to be extradited.

Huawei argues that because Canada did not have sanctions against Iran at the time Canadian officials authorised her extradition process, double criminality cannot be met.

However Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes disagreed, in a judgement that will prolong Wanzhou’s 18-month house arrest in Vancouver.

Holmes in her ruling said that the legal standard of double criminality had been met.

“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 was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Political pawn?

Following Wednesday’s ruling, Reid Weingarten, a US lawyer for Wanzhou, said his client should “not be a pawn or a hostage” in the China-US relationship.

“Today’s ruling in Canada is only the opening salvo in a very long process … we are confident that ultimately justice will be done,” he added.

Huawei meanwhile reportedly said it was disappointed by the Canadian court ruling and it expects that Canada’s judicial system will ultimately prove her innocence.

There was a much stronger reaction from China’s embassy in Canada.

“The purpose of the United States is to bring down Huawei and other Chinese high-tech companies, and Canada has been acting in the process as an accomplice of the United States,” a Chinese embassy spokesperson told CBC news. “The whole case is entirely a grave political incident.”

Independent judicial

The Canadian prime minister feels that China’s response is a bit rich, considering following the arrest of Wanzhou, Chinese authorities arrested two Canadians (Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and businessman Michael Spavor) and charged them with spying.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called their continued detention “arbitrary”, the BBC reported.

“Canada has an independent judicial system that functions without interference or override by politicians,” Trudeau said last week. “China doesn’t work quite the same way and doesn’t seem to understand that.”

Meanwhile another Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who was jailed for drug smuggling, has also been sentenced to death. He is currently appealing.

In addition, China has halted imports of canola seed and meat products from Canada.

So what next for Wanzhou?

Well the court case is not the end of the matter, as her legal team are also challenging whether the Canadian police who arrested her violated her rights.

This second hearing is currently scheduled for June. Closing arguments are expected in the last week of September and first week of October.

However, even if a Canadian court eventually recommends extradition, it is the Canadian federal justice minister who will make the final decision.

And Wanzhou has multiple chances to appeal, meaning this legal case may drag on for years.