Huawei CFO Meng Wanshou has been under partial house arrest but free to move around since being detained in December 2018. Two Canadians were subsequently detained in China under what are described as terrible conditions on charges of espionage, China has threatened it will react very forcefully if she is extradited to the U.S. ( Reuters- Leslie Wasson)

Controversial hearing for Huawei exec begins today

A year after she was detained in Vancouver on a U.S extradition request, Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is in a British Columbia court today.

The U.S Justice Department alleges that she fraudulently misled banks into processing financial transactions with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. The charges claim the Hauwei chief financial officer arranged the deals through an alleged Huawei subsidiary, Skycom, which is registered in Hong Kong, but operates in Iran.

The hearings begin today in the B.C. Supreme Court.  For the extradition to be upheld, it will have to be shown that the charges against her in the U.S would also be considered a crime had they occurred in Canada. This is what is known as dual-criminality, whereby an action has to be criminal in both countries for extradition to take place.

An extradition case normally might take as little as two days, but the gravity of this case could drag it out much longer as it involves politics and international ramifications as well as likely claims of national security being involved.  Five days have been set aside for this initial phase and the court has already set aside time in June for further hearings. Various appeals could drag it out much longer still.

Meng Wanzhou, who is out on bail and remains under partial house arrest, wears a GPS electronic monitoring bracelet as she leaves her home to attend a court hearing. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Her defence team will argue that because Canada does not have similar economic sanctions against Iran, and of her or Huawei’s actions would not be a crime, and the banks involved in the transactions would not have been at risk of prosecution or financial loss. If dual criminality is not proven, Meng would be freed.

Shortly after Meng’s detention, China detained two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig, and businessman Michael Spavor. In addition two Canadians arrested on drug charges in China have seen their cases upgraded to a penalty of death sentences.

The case is seen by many as part of a trade battle between the U.S. and China.  Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau had asked U.S President Trump to make the case of the two incarcerated Canadians part of any U.S-China trade deal.  The two giants signed an initial pact last week with no indication that heed was paid to Trudeau’s request.

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