VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – A Canadian judge ruled on Wednesday the U.S. extradition case a senior executive of Huawei can move on to the next stage, a decision that is expected to further damage relations between China and Canada.
Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, daughter of the founder and chief financial officer of the Huawei company, at Vancouver airport in late 2018. The US wants him to be extradited to face charges of fraud. His arrest angered Beijing, who regarded his case as a political move designed to prevent a Chinese revival.
Head of Justice Heather Holmes said in her decision that the accusation against Meng could constitute a crime in Canada and therefore extradition could proceed.
The US accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It said Meng, 48, committed fraud by misleading HSBC banks about the company’s business transactions in Iran.
Lawyer Meng argued during the trial in January that the case was actually about US sanctions against Iran, not a case of fraud. They argue that because Canada does not have similar sanctions against Iran, there is no fraud under the law.
“MS. Meng’s approach to dual criminality analysis will seriously limit Canada’s ability to fulfill its international obligations in the context of extradition for fraud and other economic crimes,” wrote Holmes.
Holmes said Canada did not have economic sanctions against Iran at the time but noted the sanctions used by the U.S. “basically does not conflict with Canadian values.”
His legal team is scheduled to return to court on June 15 and will argue that Canada Border Services, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the FBI violated Meng’s rights while collecting evidence before he was actually arrested. Extradition cases usually take years in Canada.
The verdict against Meng, the company’s chief financial officer, is expected to erode the already damaged relations between Beijing and Ottawa.
In retaliation for Meng’s arrest, China arrested former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian businessman Michael Spavor. China has also placed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China, including canola oil seeds. China also sentenced Canadian drug smugglers to death in a sudden retrial.
Huawei is the largest global supplier of network equipment for telephone and internet companies and some analysts say Chinese companies have violated international rules and norms amid accusations of technology theft. The company represents China’s progress in becoming a technological force and has been the subject of U.S. security issues.
Ahead of the decision, Meng posed for photographs on the court steps last weekend, giving a thumbs up sign. She appeared in court on Wednesday wearing a black dress and wearing anklets.
The Canadian Department of Justice said in a statement that a judge at a further trial would determine whether Meng’s actions allegedly provided sufficient evidence of fraud to fulfill the extradition test.
“An independent judge will determine whether the test is fulfilled. This speaks of the independence of the Canadian extradition process, “the statement said.” The minister does not personally make decisions related to the extradition process until and unless the judge commits people to extradition. ”