The Canadian government has authorised the start of a formal process to consider a request from the US to extradite Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou, who Washington accuses of helping the Chinese tech giant dodge American sanctions on Iran
Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, was detained in Vancouver last December at Washington’s behest. She is currently free on bail, reports Efe news.
“Today, Department of Justice Canada officials issued an Authority to Proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Meng Wanzhou,” the government said in a statement on Friday.
The date of the extradition hearing is scheduled for March 6 by the provincial Supreme Court of British Columbia.
“During the extradition hearing, the Crown will make its detailed arguments in its submissions to the Court, where evidence will be filed and become part of the public record,” the Department of Justice Canada said.
In January, the US government presented a pair of federal indictments against Huawei and Meng personally on charges ranging from financial fraud to industrial espionage.
Federal prosecutors also formalised their request to Canada for Meng’s extradition.
The specific accusations against Meng involved alleged bank fraud, wire fraud and other financial misdeeds to evade unilateral US sanctions against Iran.
Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is the world’s largest maker of telecommunications and China’s flagship enterprise. Beijing has reacted to the US legal offensive against the company and its executives.
Several Canadians have been detained in China since Meng’s arrest and most of Beijing’s public ire has been directed at Ottawa.
In late January, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired his country’s ambassador to China after the envoy suggested that the courts in Canada might rule against extradition.
US President Donald Trump’s suggestions that he could use the legal case against Huawei and Meng to pressure China on trade may be grounds for a Canadian judge to rebuff the extradition request.
Meng’s attorneys cited those comments from Trump in a statement reacting to the announcement from the Canadian government.
“We are disappointed that the Minister of Justice has decided to issue an Authority to Proceed in the face of the political nature of the US charges and where the President of the US has repeatedly stated that he would interfere in Meng’s case if he thought it would assist the US negotiations with China over a trade deal,” the defence team said on Friday night.