Published: Mon, January 20, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Huawei executive's extradition hearing to start in Vancouver

Huawei executive's extradition hearing to start in Vancouver

China's foreign ministry labeled Canada's detainment of smartphone giant Huawei's CFO as a "serious political matter", and again called for her release ahead of the first extradition hearing later today, Reuters reports.

Her lawyers, however, will counter that the misrepresentations do not amount to fraud, but rather are an attempt by the United States to enforce its sanctions against Iran - which Canada has not matched.

The hearings, scheduled to begin on Monday and last five days at British Columbia's supreme court, will centre on "double criminality" - the legal notion that Meng's extradition to the United States requires her alleged actions also be considered a crime in Canada.

Meng's legal team argued in November that she could not be extradited as Canada does not have sanctions against Iran at the time Canadian officials authorized commencing with the extradition, her conduct was not illegal.

She has denied the allegation against her and has been out on bail and under house arrest in Vancouver, where she owns property, since shortly after her arrest in December 2018.

Since then, there have been a handful of procedural court hearings.

On bail and reportedly living in one of two her Vancouver mansions, Meng's charged with bank fraud for allegedly violating USA sanctions by conducting business with Iran through two auxiliary companies: equipment seller SkyCom Tech and shell corporation Canicula Holdings.

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The judge must be satisfied that it meets the key test of double criminality before agreeing to an extradition.

The first phase of the trial will last at least four days, but legal experts previously said it could be years before a decision on Meng's extradition is made since Canada's slow-moving justice system allows many decisions to be appealed.

"The US and Canada are abusing their bilateral extradition treaty", said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a regular press briefing in Beijing. He referred to the situation as a "serious political matter", less than a week after the U.S. and China signed an agreement to ease the ongoing trade war between the two nations.

In response, Canada's attorney general said that Meng was arrested on charges of fraud and misleading HSBC, which is a crime in both countries.

According to court documents, Huawei allegedly controlled the operations of Skycom in Iran.

U.S. President Donald Trump told Reuters in December 2018 he would intervene in Meng's case if it served U.S. national security interests or helped close a trade deal with China.

Former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien and his ex-deputy John Manley, meanwhile, have urged Trudeau to simply release Meng in a "prisoner swap" for Spavor and Kovrig, in order to normalize relations with China.

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