Huawei boss arrives in Canada court for pre-extradition hearing
Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou arrived in a Canadian courtroom on Wednesday to begin what is expected to be a long legal battle against the United States’ request that she be extradited to face fraud charges.
The pre-extradition hearing is the latest development in a case that has escalated tensions between China and both the United States and Canada.
Meng, 47, the daughter of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested at Vancouver’s airport in December on a U.S. warrant and is fighting extradition on fraud charges that she misled global banks about Huawei’s relationship with a company operating in Iran.
For Wednesday’s hearing before Justice Heather Holmes of the British Columbia Supreme Court, Meng arrived with her lead lawyers, David Martin and Richard Peck.
Meng’s legal team is set to discuss motions they plan to bring, according to Daniel Coles, a lawyer who acted on behalf of media companies to oppose an initial publication ban on the case.
Nothing substantive is expected to be decided, Coles said. But the hearing could indicate how the legal battle will unfold, which some lawyers expect to take more than two years.
Meng’s case has attracted global attention and sparked a diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Ottawa. China has repeatedly demanded Meng’s release.
Meng, who was released from jail in December on C$10 million ($7.5 million) bail and must wear a GPS tracker, an ankle bracelet and pay for security guards, has been living in a Vancouver home valued at C$5.6 million in 2017.
She may ask to move to a larger home she owns that has been under renovation, said Paul Evans, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs.
Such a move is sure to deepen the anger of some Canadians at the difference between her lifestyle and how two Canadians are being held in a Chinese detention center, he said
In recent weeks, China has upped the pressure on Canada and halted Canadian canola imports and suspended the permits of two major pork producers. Chinese police also detained two Canadian citizens after Meng’s arrest.
Meanwhile, a second Huawei Canada executive has left the company, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Coles said he expects pre-hearing motions relating to disclosure of documents and perhaps the seizure of Meng’s electronic devices, including a computer, iPad and cellphones, when she was detained on Dec. 1.
Lawyers for Meng and spokesmen for the U.S. Department of Justice and Huawei all declined to comment ahead of the hearing.
It’s going to be the start of a long series of procedural wrangling,” said Vancouver lawyer Gary Botting, who said he was initially consulted by the Meng defense team but is no longer involved in the case. “It will go on for at least two years,” he said, and with appeals could extend to a decade.
Botting said Meng’s lawyers would want more disclosure about the case, including what happened when Meng was arrested at Vancouver airport on Dec. 1 and whether the authorities breached her rights when she was detained when she landed there en route to Mexico.
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