Huawei's Meng appears in court as Canada mulls US extradition

January 30, 2019 09:20
Canada's government has about a month to decide whether the US request for the extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is strong enough to be presented in the British Columbia court. Photo: Reuters

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.’s chief financial officer, the central figure in a high-stakes dispute between the world’s two largest economies, made her first appearance in a Canadian court in more than a month as Ottawa weighs extraditing the Chinese executive to the United States, Reuters reports.

Meng Wanzhou, daughter of the Chinese telecommunications company’s founder, attended the hearing on Tuesday at the British Columbia Supreme Court during which Justice William Ehrcke approved her request for a change in who is financially responsible for her bail.

Canada arrested Meng on Dec. 1 at the request of the US, which on Monday brought sweeping charges against Huawei and Meng that paint the company as a threat to US national security. Meng was charged with bank and wire fraud to violate American sanctions against Iran.

“I can confirm that the United States has filed a formal request with my department for the extradition of Ms. Meng,” Justice Minister David Lametti told reporters in Ottawa.

Canada’s government now has a month to decide whether the US extradition request is strong enough to be presented in the British Columbia court.

Lametti, asked whether a decision could come sooner than 30 days, said officials “will take the time that they need to make an enlightened decision based on the evidence in front of them”.

Neither Lametti nor Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland gave any hints on whether Canada would back the extradition request.

Freeland told reporters Meng “has been afforded access to Canada’s impartial and objective judicial system”.

Ehrcke on Dec. 11 approved Meng’s release on C$10 million (US$7.5 million) bail, and she has stayed at a family residence in Vancouver. 

Canada’s government agreed to her request concerning bail at Tuesday’s hearing, which the judge granted.

Ehrcke also postponed Meng’s next scheduled court appearance by a month, to March 6, which comes after the 30-day extradition decision deadline.

Her arrest further aggravated US-Chinese tensions at a time when the two economic powerhouses are locked in a trade war.

US President Donald Trump said in December he could intervene in Meng’s case if it would serve US national security interests or help close a trade deal with China. 

Following Meng’s arrest, China arrested two Canadians on national security grounds. A Chinese court later retried a Canadian man who had been jailed for drug smuggling and sentenced him to death.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday fired his ambassador to China, who had said Meng could make a strong argument against being sent to the US.

In a previous sworn affidavit, Meng said she is innocent and would contest the allegations at trial in the US if she is extradited.

Her lawyer Reid Weingarten said Meng “should not be a pawn or a hostage” in “complex” Sino-US relations.

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