Canada is a country of law and there will be no political interference by the federal government to secure the release of a highflying Chinese telecom executive arrested by Canadian officials upon the request of the U.S. authorities, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.
“We live up to our international obligations and we trust our courts to do the right thing,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.
Trudeau was responding to warnings by Beijing that Canada was going to face “grave consequences” if it didn’t release Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, who was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1 while she was transiting from Hong Kong en route to Mexico.
(Listen to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and International Trade Minister Jim Carr respond to questions about Chinese pressure)
China slams ‘inhumane treatment’
Meng, 46, who is also deputy chair of Huawei’s board and the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, could face extradition to the U.S. over allegations she was involved in violating sanctions on Iran, with each charge carrying a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
On Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang slammed Ottawa’s “inhumane treatment” of Meng in detention.
China earlier summoned both the Canadian and U.S. ambassadors in Beijing to discuss Meng’s detention.
An editorial in The Global Times, a Chinese government-owned newspaper, said Meng was subjected to degrading and inhumane treatment by being handcuffed and shackled while being moved to a Vancouver hospital for a medical treatment.
“Treating her as a prisoner is not only degrading, but is also a violation of her basic human rights,” the editorial said.
“It does not serve Canada’s national interest if it intends to fawn over the U.S. by treating Ms Meng unjustly.”
If Meng is refused bail and extradited to the U.S., Canada will get minimal gratitude from the U.S., but will face maximum opposition from China, the editorial warned.
“Chinese people will take the issue seriously, and will ask the Chinese government to impose severe sanctions on Canada.”
Canadian public interest will definitely be impaired if Sino-Canadian relations are put at a risk of major retrogression, it added.
Canada’s International Trade Minister Jim Carr said Canada’s independent legal system is doing what it’s supposed to.
“We have a sophisticated relationship with the Chinese that dates back decades and will continue,” Carr said.
Long court battle ahead
Meng’s bail hearing began on Friday, but as no decision was reached on whether she should be given bail, the court was adjourned until Monday.
The prosecution said the U.S. Justice Department has flagged her as a possible flight risk and asked the court to deny bail to Meng, citing the enormous financial resources at her disposal.
Meng’s lawyer has argued that given her high profile position in Huawei and in China, his client will never skip bail not to “lose face.”
He has also argued that Meng, a former permanent resident of Canada, has strong connections to the country and will remain in Vancouver where she owns two multimillion houses along with her husband and her daughter, while her case winds down through Canadian courts.
Court documents supplied by the defence show Meng suffers from hypertension and needs medical follow-up following a recent thyroid surgery to remove a cancerous tumour.
The defence proposed putting Meng under round-the-clock electronic and physical surveillance to assuage fears that she might skip bail.
Scott Filer, chief executive of Lions Gate Risk Management Group, a private security firm, proposed “layering of technology combined with human element” to ensure Meng doesn’t skip bail while her case winds down the Canadian court system.
Filer told the court his company could provide electronic equipment, a dedicated driver and security team to make sure Meng abides by her bail conditions.
Steve Tan, of Recovery Science, said Meng could be outfitted with GPS tracking bracelet that would immediately alert authorities if Meng tried to tamper with the device or leave the area designated by the court.
Meng’s husband, Xiaozong Liu, told the court he is ready to post a 15-million surety to ensure that his wife, Meng Wanzhou, is released on bail.
Liu told the court that he is proposing the couple’s two Vancouver homes and a $1-million deposit, worth about $15 million in total, as a surety for bail.
Liu also said he is willing to move to Canada with the couple’s daughter to make sure Meng abides by all conditions.