Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou appears in Canadian court for US extradition hearing

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou made a brief appearance in British Columbia Supreme Court on March 6, during which her extradition hearing was set for May 8.

Meng’s appearance follows the recent announcement that the Canadian Department of Justice is allowing the United States to extradite her to face fraud charges. The alleged fraud deals specifically with claims that Huawei used a shell company to conceal its business dealings with Iran, a country under U.S. sanctions.

Huawei Technologies denies any wrongdoing by the company or Meng, and demanded her release upon her Dec. 1 arrest. Furthermore, China declared her detention is a human rights violation.

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The case against the Chinese executive remains important on the global economic stage as tension escalates between the U.S. and China.

As the world waits for the extradition hearing to begin, here is everything we know so far.

Meng Wanzhou’s Arrest and Detainment

Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver, Canada on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States, who also requested her extradition on fraud charges. Her arrest follows 23 indictments made by the U.S. Department of Justice against Huawei.

Released on $10 million Canadian dollars bail, Meng was placed under house arrest to await her Supreme Court appearance. Terms of her release required 24-hour surveillance as well as wearing a GPS tracker on her ankle.

Serious Charges

Huawei faces serious charges, including allegations of lying to the FBI about violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. Meng, who is also Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei’s daughter, is accused of lying to multiple U.S. banks about the company’s dealings with Iran.

Furthermore, Huawei is accused of allegedly paying employees to steal information from tech rivals, as well as asking U.S.-based employees to steal trade secrets from a T-Mobile phone testing robot.

Overall, the steep charges against the tech giant reflect growing concern that Huawei poses a national security threat. It has long been believed the Chinese government uses the company’s technology for spying.

Chinese Resistance, Retaliation, and Ramifications

As China’s biggest telecom equipment maker, Huawei has consistently proclaimed its innocence in all allegations raised in the evolving legal battle. Beijing has also been angered by this chain of events.

Chinese authorities arrested former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian businessman Michael Spavor in (possible) retaliation for Meng’s arrest. Within days of Canada’s extradition approval, the Chinese government has now accused both men of espionage.

A third Canadian citizen, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, received a death sentence for smuggling drugs.

Unfortunately, the high-profile situation is unfolding amid tense relations between the U.S. and China. It remains to be seen what, if any, ramifications the impending proceedings will have on the 90-day truce on tariffs which was brokered at the G20 summit.

Political Implications and a New Lawsuit

In lieu of the latest developments, President Donald Trump could potentially issue an executive order restricting sales of 5G equipment within the U.S.

However, some are concerned about his Reuters statement in which he said he might “intervene” in Meng’s case if he thought “it’s good for the country” and if “it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made.”

In a new Reuters report, Huawei is now suing the U.S. government over a defense bill which issues an equipment ban.

The company is reportedly “challenging the constitutionality of Section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a section signed into law by the U.S. president in August that banned federal agencies and their contractors from procuring its equipment and services.”

Extradition Hearing Expectations

According to a Vancouver Sun report, Meng Wanzhou and her legal team filed a civil suit in the British Columbia Supreme Court during the weekend preceding her March 6 court appearance. The suit alleges Meng’s civil rights were violated during her arrest.

The extradition hearing is set to begin at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on May 8.

At the hearing, the Crown will present evidence and arguments to the judge, and Meng’s lawyers can respond before a decision is made. Many factors will be considered, including whether alleged criminal activities are considered criminal actions in both countries, and whether the evidence would warrant Meng facing trial in Canada if she had engaged in the same conduct there.

Finally, if the judge decides to commit Meng for extradition, the federal justice minister must also decide if she should be surrendered to America to face trial.

Orders from both officials can be appealed to the B.C. Court of Appeal. That decision can also be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

At this time, Meng’s defense strategy is unknown. However, if an aggressive defense is mounted and appeals are filed, the case against Huawei and its CFO could ultimately be tied up in court for years.

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