Extradition proceedings for Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou to begin in January
|Toronto Star 08 May 2019 at 18:35|
VANCOUVER—The potentially years-long showdown that will see Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou resist attempts to send her stateside will begin in January, pending a review of scheduling conflicts by Associate Chief Justice Heather J. Holmes.
Wednesday’s hearing at the B.C. Supreme Court also drew Meng’s defence strategy into sharper focus, confirming that comments made by U.S. President Donald Trump as well as her civil suit against Canadian authorities will be prominent parts of her lawyers’ arguments.
Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is escorted by security as she leaves her home on Wednesday in Vancouver. Meng is in court prior to extradition hearings and could face criminal charges of conspiracy and fraud in the U.S. (Jeff Vinnick / Getty Images)
American authorities have charged Meng with over Huawei ’s alleged attempts to circumvent American sanctions against Iran.
Meng is alleged to have “repeatedly lied” to an executive of a multinational bank during a presentation in August 2013 when she distanced Huawei from the company Skycom, which the U.S. says was Huawei’s “long-standing Iranian affiliate.” She has denied all wrongdoing.
Meng’s defence team told the court Wednesday it plans to argue she shouldn’t be extradited to the United States because she hasn’t committed fraud under Canadian law and her arrest at Vancouver’s airport was unlawful.
She is suing the Canada Border Services Agency, the RCMP and the federal government, according to B.C. Supreme Court documents.
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The statement of claim, filed March 1, alleges Canadian officials “intentionally delayed” executing the warrant for Meng’s arrest upon her arrival at Vancouver International Airport. According to the suit, Meng was illegally searched and questioned “under the guise of a routine border check ... to extract evidence from her before she was arrested and provided with her rights.”
Lin Zhonglin, on vacation in Canada from Mexico, shows high school students his painting, where he’s embedded the words “Meng” and “Huawei.” Outside a B.C. courthouse Wednesday, he chanted the words “There are mountains, there is water, there is Meng Wanzhou.” (Alex McKeen/Star Vancouver)
In March, Meng’s lawyers argued her arrest was political in nature, citing that he might personally intervene in the case should a favourable outcome in U.S.-China trade negotiations be forthcoming.
Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley, who is representing the Attorney General of Canada, asked Justice Holmes for the case to proceed as quickly as is fair, proposing the first court date begin by the end of August.
The defence said it needs more time to gather documents through Freedom-of-Information requests and it wants audio from Meng’s questioning at the time of her arrest.
As Wangzhou is set to appear to court for extradition hearings to the U.S., media and protesters gather on the steps outside the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Wednesday. (David P. Ball/Star Vancouver)
Meng’s next appearance in court will be Sept. 23 for a disclosure hearing. Her lawyers will argue for the Canadian government and law enforcement to provide further evidence they believe would aid in her defence.
Bail conditions for the embattled executive were also amended Wednesday, with both Crown and defence agreeing to a move for Meng from her current Dunbar residence to her family’s larger, gated home in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood. The Shaughnessy home will help streamline duties for her 24-hour security detail, her lawyers said, since the current home, on a corner lot with an open front yard, had become a magnet for media and a curious public.
Wednesday’s hearing was the latest development in one of the highest-profile court dramas to hit the B.C. Supreme Court in years, a case connected to international controversies over human rights , espionage , national security and the shifting fortunes of the West amid China’s economic ascendancy.
Each of Meng’s court appearances has seen swaths of media and protesters show up at the downtown Vancouver courthouse, both supporting Meng and calling for her extradition.
Nurly Rozi, a Uyghur Canadian, said he hasn’t heard from his family in Xinjiang province in over two years. Meng Wanzhou, he said, is “lucky” to have a hearing. (Alex McKeen/Star Vancouver)
Nurly Rozi, a Uyghur Canadian who has not spoken to his two sisters and one brother in Xinjiang for over two years, was among the demonstrators.
“Meng Wanzhou, she is lucky today,” he said, because she has access to a legal hearing.
A recent report from Reporters Without Borders, entitled “China’s Pursuit of a New World Media Order,” points to Huawei’s role in the development and implementation of surveillance technologies used to monitor and oppress the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang region of China. Huawei has declined to comment on the allegations, referring questions to the Chinese government.
Turnisa Matsedik-Qisa holds a poster asking for the release of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, currently detained in China. She is Uighur Canadian, and wants Canada to do more to pressure China to stop detaining members of the Muslim minority. (Alex McKeen/Star Vancouver)
Turnisa Matsedik-Qisa, who also has not heard from her family members in Xinjiang in over two years, said she wants the Canadian government to stand up to China on the detentions and lack of due process.
She held a sign asking for the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians detained in China and accused of trying to steal state secrets. The pair were arrested in December in a move experts have characterized as retaliatory.
“I am Canadian. I don’t want any Canadian held hostage in any country for any stupid reason,” she said. “I am worried about my family. Every Uyghur Canadian is in the same situation like me.”
Meng is Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei. Her mother, Meng Jun, also has connections to the Chinese government as the daughter of the former deputy governor of Sichuan province.
Experts in Chinese society and history say the Communist Party’s swift reaction to her arrest shows she is treated much like a “princeling” within the country’s elite inner circle.