A lawyer for Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou argued in a Canadian court that “double criminality” was at the center of a trial to decide whether she can be extradited to the United States, Reuters reports.
The central issue is “double criminality,” defense lawyer Richard Peck told a court in Vancouver, according to the report.
“Would we be here in the absence of US sanctions law, and … our response is no,” Peck said.
“In a typical case, double criminality is not contentious. This case, however, is founded on an allegation of breach of US sanctions, sanctions which Canada has expressly repudiated,” he added.
The comments came after Meng, 47, arrived in court on Monday for the first phase of a trial that will last at least four days, as China repeated its call for Canada to release her.
The United States has charged Meng with bank fraud, and accused her of misleading banking giant HSBC about Huawei Technologies’ business in Iran.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei, remains free on bail in Canada, and has been living in a mansion in Vancouver’s exclusive Shaughnessy neighborhood.
She has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition in part because her alleged conduct was not illegal in Canada, an argument known legally as “double criminality.”
Unlike the United States, Canada did not have sanctions against Iran at the time Canadian officials authorized commencing with the extradition, her lawyers have said.
Peck said the United States cast this matter as a case of fraud against a bank, which he described as “an artifice”.
“In reality, sanctions violation is the essence of the alleged misconduct … the United States has a global interest in enforcing its Iran sanctions. Sanctions drive this case,” the lawyer added.
Meng’s legal team is currently only scheduled to call evidence in the last week of April, and a second phase of the trial, focusing on abuse of process and whether Canadian officials followed the law when arresting Meng, is set to begin in June.
Closing arguments are expected in the last week of September and first week of October.
The case has had a chilling effect on relations between Ottawa and Beijing. China has called Meng’s arrest politically motivated.
“The resolve of the Chinese government to protect Chinese citizens’ proper legal rights is firm and unwavering,” a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman told reporters during a daily briefing in Beijing on Monday.
He called Meng’s case a “serious political matter.”
Huawei said in a statement that it stands with Meng in her pursuit of justice and freedom. “We trust in Canada’s judicial system, which will prove Ms. Meng’s innocence,” it added.
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