Chinese tech giant Huawei accused the U.S. government of acting on “political and financial considerations, not the rule of law,” as a B.C. court finally set a timeline for the extradition case of CFO Meng Wanzhou.
Benjamin Howes, Huawei’s vice-president of international media affairs, made the comments in a statement in Vancouver, where pre-hearing arguments for Meng’s extradition resumed on Thursday.
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Howes said comments by U.S. President Donald Trump prove the case is politically motivated, and the company’s lawyers will seek to have it thrown out as an abuse of process.
The comments came as the court set a date for Meng’s extradition case to begin in earnest — a process now expected to last well into 2020.
Initial disclosure of evidence will take place in September and October of this year.
Meng’s legal team will then attempt to challenge the extradition under the principle of “double criminality” beginning on Jan. 20, 2020.
Under that principle, Canada should not extradite someone to a foreign country for something that would not be considered a crime within its own borders.
“The U.S. allegations against Ms. Meng are based on violations of unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on financial services in Iran. Canada does not impose any such sanctions. Therefore, transactions conducted with the bank do not pose any risk of breaking Canadian law,” Howes said.
“As a result, the alleged conduct of Ms. Meng is not criminal in Canada and she should be released immediately.”
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A second hearing on the alleged abuse of process is scheduled for June 2020.
A continuation of the extradition hearing itself is not expected to begin until September of next year.
Meng was arrested at the Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of U.S. authorities.
She is accused of breaking U.S. trade sanctions against Iran by allegedly misrepresenting Huawei’s ownership and control of Skycom, a company doing business in the Middle Eastern country.
Huawei denies that Meng misrepresented the company’s relationship with Skycom, and alleges the bank she was dealing with was aware of the situation.
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The company further alleges that Meng’s constitutional rights were violated when she was detained at the airport and searched “under the pretense of a routine border check.”
The 46-year-old remains under house arrest, and is living one of her two multimillion-dollar Vancouver homes on $10-million bail. She is also under 24-hour surveillance by a private security company as well as electronic monitoring.
The case has caused major trade and diplomatic tension between Canada and China, with the Asian country detaining two Canadians on allegations of espionage after Meng was arrested.
China has also blocked imports of Canadian canola products and has increased inspections on Canadian pork.
On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would see if it was appropriate to have a one-on-one conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping about easing tensions between the two countries at June’s G20 summit in Japan.