Extradition hearing of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou pushed to March
The extradition hearing for a top Huawei executive at the center of a diplomatic row between Ottawa (Canada capital) and Beijing (China capital) has been pushed back to March, after US unveiled sweeping charges against her and the Chinese tech giant. Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's CFO and the founder's daughter, was indicted along with Huawei and two affiliates in a US case in December.
The US case is related to alleged Iran sanctions violations that have inflamed tensions with China. Wanzhou was arrested at Washington's request on December 1 as she changed planes in Vancouver, and was later released on bail pending a decision on extradition to the US.
In Meng's first court appearance yesterday since being released, the judge moved the start of her extradition hearing to March 6, a month later than previously scheduled, in order to allow the defense time to review the evidence. Extradition cases can take months or years, noted David Lametti, Canada's new attorney general. "By the time all the individual's rights are exhausted," he said.
"At the end of the process, if a judge orders an extradition, the attorney general would have the "final say," Lametti added. The case has drawn Canada into an escalating diplomatic crisis with Beijing, which has detained two Canadians in what was widely seen as an act of retaliation for Meng's arrest. In possible response, Canada sacked its ambassador to China over the weekend.
The envoy was sacked since he believed the US extradition request was flawed. China reacted furiously to US' criminal charges, saying they were the product of "strong political motivations and political manipulations." Huawei also denied any wrongdoing. Canadian officials have confirmed that they received a formal extradition request from US. The US Justice Department has announced 13 charges against Meng, Huawei and two affiliates.
The indictment was unsealed as China's top trade negotiator arrived in Washington for high-stakes talks with US officials, which could complicate efforts to avert deepening of their trade-war. Additionally, 10 US federal charges were filed against two Huawei affiliates for allegedly stealing technology from T-Mobile.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said both sets of charges "expose Huawei's brazen and persistent actions to exploit American companies and financial institutions, and to threaten the free and fair global marketplace." But acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said there was nothing in the indictment that alleged Chinese government involvement in either case. The Chinese foreign ministry also lashed out at Washington over this.
China's foreign ministry accused US of using "state power to discredit and crack down on specific Chinese companies in an attempt to strangle the enterprises' legitimate operations." It renewed Beijing's demand for US to drop its warrant against Meng and for Canada to release her. Meng, Huawei and subsidiaries has been accused of seeking to mask their business with Iran between 2007 and 2017.
Huawei's business with Iran was in violation of US and UN sanctions. Meng in particular "repeatedly lied" to bankers about the relationships between the companies, especially with Skycom, a Huawei-affiliate in Iran, according to charges. That violated US laws, the Justice Department said, because the Iran business involved US-dollar transactions processed by banks through US, adding, Huawei and the affiliates are also obstructing probe.