Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou will be back in court on September 23 to fight extradition to the U.S. Meng’s charged with fraud, and violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. She’s also been confined to the Vancouver area since December.
On Wednesday, Meng’s lawyers laid out her case in greater detail. CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports from the courtroom in Vancouver.
It’s a trip Meng Wanzhou has become quite familiar with: the eight kilometer drive from her home in West Vancouver to British Columbia Supreme Court downtown. It’s been five months since the Huawei executive was picked up by Canadian police on a U.S. warrant at Vancouver airport. Meng and her company claim that arrest was completely wrong.
“We have maintained that her U.S.-ordered arrest was an unlawful abuse of process, one guided by political considerations and tactics, not by the rule of law,” Huawei Technologies Spokesman Benjamin Howes said.
Defense 1: Abuse of Power
On Wednesday, Meng’s four attorneys told a judge there are three major problems with her case. First, they said, the allegations that she misled banks into doing business with Iran were untrue.
“It was made clear that the business activities of Ms. Meng were conducted openly and transparently with the full knowledge of banking officials,” Howes said.
Defense 2: Double Criminality
Two, they argued that what’s considered a crime in the U.S. (in this case fraud) has to be a crime in Canada for an extradition to the U.S. to be legal. They said that principle (i.e. double criminality) did not apply here.
Defense 3: Insufficient Evidence
Three, the lawyers said Meng’s three- hour long detention at the airport on December 1st violated Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“Her luggage was searched, her cellphone and other electronic devices were taken at the direction of the FBI and she was compelled to reveal her passwords,” Howes said.
Meng’s representatives also said evidence key to the defense remains with the authorities and they want it turned over. Prosecutors maintain Meng’s alleged misrepresentations to banks put their economic interests at risk. They also claim there’s sufficient evidence for her to be extradited. Each of these issues will be considered prior to any extradition hearing.
“That’s why you get to one and you go on to the next and you to the next. So if at any stage the Crown can’t surmount that particular hurdle, then the extradition dies,” Extradition Attorney Gary Botting explained.
A Huawei spokesman promises more bank-related information that’s central to the case will be released soon.
“We have trust in the Canadian legal process and we look forward to seeing Ms. Meng’s freedom restored,” Howes stated.
But first there will be a hearing to determine whether Meng’s extradition is even warranted. She’s due back in court for eight days, beginning in late September. That’s when this complex case moves into a new phase and a new season.