June 24, 2019 1:31 pm
Updated: June 25, 2019 10:24 am

Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers call on Trudeau government to end extradition proceedings

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The defence team for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is calling on the government of Canada to end the extradition process against their client calling the case “palpably” political.

In a letter sent to Justice Minister David Lametti, Meng’s lawyers argue that the extradition proceedings against the embattled tech executive are “without merit” and stopping the proceedings would be in the best interest of Canada.

“These extradition proceedings are unique,” lawyers Richard Peck, David Martin, Scott Fenton and Eric Gottardi said in a joint statement Monday. “The factual and legal underpinnings for Ms. Meng’s extradition are without precedent in Canadian law.”

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They publicly disclosed the contents of the letter saying they would leave that decision to Minister Lametti.

“No similar extradition request has ever been entertained by Canada,” the three-page press release said. “Palpably, it is brought for political purposes as opposed to legitimate criminal law enforcement reasons.”

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Meng’s legal team has argued that no aspects of the case violated Canadian law and all of the allegations occurred in a foreign state. They have also said her arrest at Vancouver’s airport was unlawful.

“Over our history, the Canadian government has stood up for Canadian values, including the rule of law, even in circumstances where this has meant a departure from American foreign policy,” the statement said. “Ending the extradition proceedings against Ms. Meng now is entirely consistent with Canada’s commitment to the rule of law, our international treaties and Canada’s independent foreign policy.”

A spokesperson for Minister Lametti’s told Global News that Justice Canada cannot confirm receipt of the letter and that it would “inappropriate for the Minister to comment” as the case is currently before the courts.

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The U.S. Department of Justice has laid more than a dozen criminal charges, including conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and obstruction, against Huawei and Meng, who is the daughter of the company’s founder. Meng is currently being detained in Canada after she was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018.

Under Canada’s extradition act, the justice minister has the power to step in and cancel an extradition process at any time. Meng’s lawyers pointed to recent comments from former prime minister Jean Chrétien who floated the idea of the minister intervening to help free two Canadians – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – who were jailed in China following Meng’s arrest in Vancouver.

However, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has rejected the idea saying it set would set a “very dangerous precedent.”

“When it comes to Ms Meng, there has been no political interference … and that is the right way for extradition requests to proceed,” Freeland told reporters in Washington last week. “It would be a very dangerous precedent indeed for Canada to alter its behaviour when it comes to honouring an extradition treaty in response to external pressure.”

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Several legal battles over disclosure of evidence in the case and whether Meng’s constitutional rights were violated have led to lengthy delays. Her extradition hearing is not expected to begin until Jan 2020, more than a year after her arrest.

Meanwhile, Canada and China’s diplomatic relationship has rapidly deteriorated. In addition to the arrests of two Canadians, China has sentenced two other Canadians to death and targeted Canadian agricultural products, blocking the imports of canola and pork.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump said he will do whatever he can to help Canada amid the diplomatic rift with China at the upcoming G20 summit in Japan.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau side-stepped questions from reporters on whether he would ask Trump to bring up the issue saying that he had “extensive conversations” with the president about China, and discussed “potential paths forward.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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