Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing is starting today in Vancouver, Canada. It is anticipated to last four days and set to focus on the issue of “double criminality”.
Lawyers for Huawei's chief financial officer contend she should not be held in Canada nor extradited in line with the countries’ extradition treaty, since alleged violations of US-imposed sanctions on Iran do not amount to crimes in Canada.
“Basically, the argument she’s making — that it’s not criminal in Canada — is in the sense that the United States doesn't have jurisdiction to police the world,” Dr. Gary Botting, Vancouver barrister and Canadian extradition law expert is quoted by Yahoo Finance as saying.
“The defence team is saying that the sanctions against Iran that are imposed, somewhat arbitrarily by the United States, have no standing outside of the United States, and no application beyond citizens of the United States."
Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer could be discharged if the Canadian judge hearing the case finds that the prosecution has failed to meet the requirement to show “double criminality”.
However, given the Canadian courts’ recent interpretation of “double criminality”, Botting says the Supreme Court of Canada has “made it clear” that a mere “element of criminality” would suffice to substantiate the requirement.
“That’s very far reaching, but basically that is the position that Canada has taken the last five to 10 years of extradition cases. When they have a situation like this, it’s always the lowest common denominator,” he said, adding:
“It used to be that you had to import the entire situation into Canada, and say, ‘Under these circumstances, would this be criminal?’”
Amid the imminent possibility of the Huawei Chief Financial Officer’s extradition to the United States, China's Foreign Ministry has implored the Canadian authorities to “correct their mistake” and release Meng, Reuters reported, citing the ministry's spokesperson.
The tech giant's top executive officer and daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has been under house arrest in Vancouver since December 2018.
Meng, 47, was detained on a provisional warrant from the US Justice Department during a stopover en route to Mexico City. Washington has been seeking her extradition to stand trial in the US for 13 criminal counts of alleged conspiracy, fraud, and obstruction.
The charges stem from her position on the board of Skycom, a subsidiary of Huawei that the US government alleges the tech giant used to circumvent trade sanctions slapped on Iran.
The prosecution alleges that Meng lied about the relationship between the two entities to an HSBC executive, thus putting US banks at risk.
Meng and Huawei have denied all allegations.
Despite her house arrest in Vancouver, Meng, who is required to wear an ankle bracelet and respect an 11 p.m. curfew, remains Huawei’s CFO, involved with daily operations, according to a company spokesperson.
Meng’s legal struggle starts in the wake of recent moves by Washington looking to de-escalate tensions with Beijing, as last week US President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed a “Phase 1” trade agreement.
China committed under the trade agreement to grant greater protection to US intellectual property, not devalue the yuan to its advantage and purchase US goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
The US Blacklisting of Huawei
Huawei found itself in Washington’s cross-hairs last year amid the escalating trade war with China, when the White House accused the world’s No. 1 supplier of telecom equipment and No. 2 phone manufacturer of allegedly presenting a national security risk.
The US insisted Huawei could help the Chinese government spy on other countries and companies who use its devices.
Beijing and Huawei have rejected the allegations.
Nevertheless, in 2019 the Commerce Department placed the tech giant on its Entity List, barring US companies from selling components to the Chinese corporation, though it has since offered some exemptions.
Donald Trump’s administration has also led a global push to shut Huawei out from the ongoing roll-out of fifth-generation networks, with some US allies, such as Japan and Australia, agreeing to ban its use.
Other countries, like Germany and the UK, are yet to make a final decision on Huawei, and are facing heightened pressure from the US. Earlier, Washington warned Boris Johnson’s government that granting Huawei technology access to the UK’s 5G networks would jeopardise intelligence sharing between the Five Eyes security alliance, which comprises the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US.