Defence wraps arguments in first phase of Huawei exec’s Vancouver extradition trial

Click to play video: 'Defence lays out case at Meng Wanzhou extradition hearing'
Defence lays out case at Meng Wanzhou extradition hearing
WATCH: Defence attorneys for Meng Wanzhou have laid out their case against the extradition of the Huawei executive to the U.S. Aaron McArthur reports – Jan 21, 2020

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou‘s defence has wrapped its arguments in the first phase of her trial on extradition to the U.S.

Meng, 47, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 at the request of the U.S., which is accusing her of fraud and violating sanctions against Iran.

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Click to play video: 'Meng Wanzhou’s extradition trial enters second day'
Meng Wanzhou’s extradition trial enters second day

The trial began Monday at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver with defence making their case the entire trial should be thrown out.

On Tuesday, Meng’s lawyer told the Justice Heather Holmes that her alleged conduct didn’t amount to fraud under Canadian law.

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U.S. prosecutors claim Meng used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran, and that she committed fraud by misleading HSBC about the company’s dealings with the Middle Eastern country.

Meng denies all accusations, and her defence argued that any false statements she made to the bank would be irrelevant under Canadian law, because the bank would never have faced any loss or risk.

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“The risk of loss is driven by legal risk — legal risk that only exists in the United States of America,” said defence lawyer Scott Fenton.

Meng’s defence has centred around the principle of “double criminality.” In order for extradition to occur, an alleged offence must be a crime in both countries involved.

If the judge rules there was “double criminality,” the hearing will proceed to a second phase. If she rules in favour of Meng, the executive will be free to leave Canada.

On Monday, Meng’s legal team focused heavily on the argument that U.S. sanctions were driving the extradition. It argued that since Canada dropped sanctions against Iran in 2016, Meng’s actions were not criminal in 2018 when Canada received the extradition request.

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Meng’s case fractured Canada-China relations after Beijing detained two Canadians and restricted imports in moves widely seen as retaliation for her arrest in 2018.

Deputy Prime Minister Christia Freeland weighed in on that point Tuesday, insisting its main priority was securing the two men’s release.

“The clear priority of everyone in our government, of the prime minister, of ambassador Barton, of our excellent minister of foreign affairs François-Philippe Champagne, the priority for me is the well-being and the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor,” said Freeland.

“That is at the heart of all the work we are doing and rightly so. Our government has been clear that we are a rule of law country, and that we honour our extradition treaty commitments.”

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Crown prosecutors are slated to begin their arguments Wednesday, when they are expected to argue that the alleged fraud would have been a crime in Canada.

The hearing is slated to wrap by week’s end.

Meng continues to live in one of her two multi-million-dollar mansions in Vancouver, but is on bail and under travel restrictions.

— With files from the Canadian Press

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