Meng Wanzhou loses key court fight, must stay in B.C. to fight extradition

Click to play video: 'B.C. judge rules against Meng Wanzhou in extradition hearing'
B.C. judge rules against Meng Wanzhou in extradition hearing
WATCH: Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has lost the latest challenge to her extradition order to the U.S. A B.C. Supreme court judge ruled Wednesday the CFO's alleged actions would be considered a crime in Canada and proceedings against her will continue. Nadia Stewart has the latest. – May 27, 2020

The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in a major decision Wednesday morning.

The decision, released Wednesday by Justice Heather Holmes, means Meng must stay in Canada and keep fighting the U.S. extradition order against her.

“The effects of the U.S. sanctions may properly play a role in the double-criminality analysis as part of the background or context against which the alleged conduct was examined,” Holmes said in the decision.

“Ms. Meng’s application is therefore dismissed.”

The legal arguments centred on whether the allegations Meng faces in the United States would be a crime in Canada.

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Click to play video: 'B.C. judge rules against Meng Wanzhou in extradition hearing'
B.C. judge rules against Meng Wanzhou in extradition hearing

“I cannot agree with Ms. Meng that to refer to the U.S. sanctions in order to understand the risk to HSBC is to allow the essence of the conduct to be defined by foreign law,” Holmes stated.

“Ms. Meng’s appoach to the double-criminality analysis would be seriously limit Canada’s ability to fulfill its international obligations in the extradition context for fraud and other economic crimes.”

The United States has charged her with fraud over allegations she violated American sanctions against Iran, which she and the Chinese telecommunications giant have denied.

In a statement to media, Huawei said the company is “disappointed” by the ruling.

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“We have repeatedly expressed confidence in Ms. Meng’s innocence. Huawei continues to stand with Ms. Meng in her pursuit for justice and freedom.

“We expect that Canada’s judicial system will ultimately prove Ms. Meng’s innocence. Ms. Meng’s lawyers will continue to work tirelessly to see justice is served.”

According to the Global Times, a state-affiliated English-language newspaper in China, the first reaction from a Huawei senior executive to the ruling was to say, “Don’t worry, we’ll work harder and harder. There’s always no easy to achieve success. The justice will finally come.

“All we need is arduous patience and wisdom.”

Click to play video: 'Meng Wanzhou leaves Vancouver home for BC Supreme Court extradition case'
Meng Wanzhou leaves Vancouver home for BC Supreme Court extradition case

A statement from the Chinese embassy in Canada also denounced Wednesday’s ruling, saying that China “expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to the decision and urged Canada “not to go further down the wrong path.”

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“The United States and Canada, by abusing their bilateral extradition treaty and arbitrarily taking forceful measures against Ms. Meng Wanzhou, gravely violated the lawful rights and interests of the said Chinese citizen,” read the statement.

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“The purpose of the United States is to bring down Huawei and other Chinese high-tech companies, and Canada has been acting in the process as an accomplice of the United States. The whole case is entirely a grave political incident.”

In his own statement, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne stressed the independence of both the court’s decision and Canada’s judicial system, and promised continued transparency as Meng’s case continues.

“We will continue to pursue principled engagement with China to address our bilateral differences and to cooperate in areas of mutual interest.”

Champagne added the federal government’s top priority remains securing the release of Canadians Michael Kovrig, an ex-diplomat working for the International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur who did business in North Korea.

The so-called “two Michaels” were arrested nine days after Meng’s arrest on Dec. 1, 2018, and have been “arbitrarily detained for over 500 days” since then, Champagne said.

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“We will continue to advocate for their immediate release and seek clemency for Canadians facing the death penalty in China, including Robert Schellenberg,” he said, referring to a B.C. man who was sentenced to death on drug smuggling charges.

China continues to deny the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor had anything to do with Meng’s detention.

Meng has been under house arrest in Vancouver since she was released on bail on Dec. 11, 2018.

Media and security outside Meng Wanzhou’s house Wednesday, May 27, 2020. Corey Callahan / Global News

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who is not connected to the case, told media outside court that the “heart of the decision” rested on the broad definition of fraud that the court held up, which he says is important.

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“The definition of fraud in an extradition context must be kept as broad as possible, according to the court, and that’s because there are bad people doing bad things all over the world,” he said.

“To narrow the definition of fraud in an extradition context as suggested by defence, in the long-term, would not be in the interest of the global extradition system, as well as Canada’s extradition system.”

Click to play video: 'Immigration lawyer explains ruling made by a Canadian judge against Meng Wanzhou'
Immigration lawyer explains ruling made by a Canadian judge against Meng Wanzhou

Fraud tied to Iranian sanctions was expected to lead to a double-criminality result in Meng’s favour, he added.

“That was not the case. Iranian sanctions were not in the same pool as laws like human slavery, oppressive laws.”

Meng was arrested by RCMP as she was passing through Vancouver International Airport on her way to Mexico from Hong Kong. An arrest warrant was previously issued for her to stand trial in the United States.

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Following her arrest, which was made public on Dec. 5, 2018, the Chinese embassy in Canada demanded her release.

Proceedings showed the U.S. issued the arrest warrant because it believes Meng covered up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran, breaking U.S. sanctions against the country.

On March 1, 2019, Canada approved the extradition order of Meng to the U.S.

Just two days later, Huawei sued the Canadian government over Meng’s arrest and China claimed Kovrig stole state secrets. Beijing has also claimed Spavor is “suspected” of endangering the country’s national security. Both men are reportedly being kept in detention facilities with 24-hour lighting and denied consular visits.

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Huawei wants to build a 5G cellphone network in Canada but the decision to allow it has been postponed.

—With files from the Canadian Press

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