Meng Wanzhou: Extradition hearings to begin for Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to appear in British Columbia supreme court for a hearing, in Vancouver, British Columbia
Image captionMeng Wanzhou on her way to court in Vancouver in September, as part of her fight against extradition to the US

The formal extradition hearings for a Chinese Huawei executive who was arrested in Canada slightly more than a year ago are to begin on Monday.

Meng Wanzhou was held in late 2018 in Canada on suspicion of fraud and breaching US sanctions on Iran.

The US wants Ms Meng to stand trial on charges including fraud linked to the alleged violation of sanctions on Iran.

The case is being watched for its possible repercussions for ties between China and the US and Canada.

This week’s hearings will run from 20-24 January in the British Columbia supreme court in Vancouver and will focus on Ms Meng’s double criminality motion.

That motion is a step in the extradition process in which the court hears arguments related to whether the crime Ms Meng is accused of by the US would also be considered a crime in Canada.

The judge must be satisfied that it meets the key test of double criminality before agreeing to an extradition.

The 47-year-old executive’s lawyers are expected to argue that she cannot be turned over to the US because her offense fails to meet that necessary standard.

Canadian justice department lawyers will argue her offence is a crime in both countries, therefore paving the way for her to be extradited.

How does the extradition process work?

If a judge is satisfied with the evidence presented during the extradition hearing, he or she will authorise that the individual be committed for extradition.

If the case does not meet the double criminality test, the person will be discharged and released from custody.

Even if the judge recommends extradition, it is the federal justice minister that makes the ultimate decision on whether to surrender the person to the US.

Still, it is highly likely this overall process could be a lengthy one. Ms Meng does have avenues to appeal throughout the process.

What is the background?

Ms Meng is the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom giant and daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei.

She has denied the allegation against her and has been out on bail and under house arrest in Vancouver, where she owns property, since shortly after her arrest in December 2018.

Michael Spavor (L) and Michael Kovrig (composite image)
Image captionMichael Spavor (L) and Michael Kovrig have been held since December 2018

Her arrest caused a significant rift between Canada and China.

China detained two Canadian nationals – Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman – shortly after her arrest and has accused the pair of espionage.

The move by Beijing is widely viewed as “hostage diplomacy” – a tactic to put pressure on Canada to release the Huawei executive. Their detention has been called “arbitrary” by Canada and its allies.

Ms Meng’s arrest also led to a trade row between Canada and China, with China blocking tens of millions of dollars of canola exports.

China has urged Canada to release Ms Meng, suggesting the case is political persecution by the US.

Washington has been lobbying its allies – including the UK – to not use Huawei’s 5G technology services in critical communications infrastructure, alleging it could be a security threat.

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