by AFP/ pic by BLOOMBERG
VANCOUVER – Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou faces a new round of extradition hearings starting Monday in Vancouver, as the two-year anniversary of her arrest by Canadian authorities approaches.
Meng, chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant, has been fighting extradition to the United States, where she faces fraud and conspiracy charges related to alleged violations by Huawei of US sanctions on Iran.
Her arrest in Vancouver on December 1, 2018 plunged Canada-China relations into crisis.
Days later, two Canadians were detained in China, accused by Beijing of espionage in what Ottawa has insisted was a retaliatory move.
China insists that Meng has violated no laws, and says the detention of the two Canadians was unrelated. The US and Canada have demanded their release.
Over the next two weeks in a court in Vancouver, Meng’s lawyers are scheduled to continue their cross-examination of law enforcement witnesses involved in her detention.
The first witness is expected to be Bryce McRae, a superintendent at the Canada Border Services Agency. He was involved in Meng’s detention at Vancouver airport.
Meng’s lawyers contend that Canada violated her rights when she was detained, searched and interrogated for hours.
Meng has argued, moreover, that US President Donald Trump “poisoned” her chances for a fair hearing by suggesting in 2018 that he might intervene in the case if doing so might help trade talks with China.
As the extradition hearings resume, Canada’s attorney general has been given a day on December 7 to argue that the court should block some evidence regarding Trump’s involvement.
When Meng last appeared in court in October, her lawyer accused Canadian border officers of colluding with federal police to obtain her electronic device passcodes.
One officer admitted he made a “mistake,” unintentionally giving Meng’s codes to police.
Days earlier, the arresting policeman said he also erred when he swore in an arrest affidavit that Meng had “no ties” to Canada, when in fact he soon learned she had two homes there and once held permanent residence.
But Canada has consistently denied that Meng’s rights have been abused or that she has been treated unfairly. She has been under house arrest.
The US has accused Meng of hiding Huawei’s relationship with former subsidiary Skycom to evade US sanctions on Iran, an allegation she denies.
The Trump administration argues that Huawei has ties to China’s Communist Party and that its new 5G technology could be used for espionage. It has urged other countries to cut ties with the company.
The extradition case is scheduled to wrap up in April 2021.
© Agence France-Presse