TORONTO – The Canadian government authorized on Friday the start of a formal process to consider a request from the United States to extradite Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, was detained in Vancouver last December at Washington’s behest. She is currently free on bail.
“Today, Department of Justice Canada officials issued an Authority to Proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Ms. Meng Wanzhou,” the government said in a statement.
The date of the extradition hearing is to be set next Wednesday by the provincial Supreme Court of British Columbia.
“During the extradition hearing, the Crown will make its detailed arguments in its submissions to the Court, where evidence will be filed and become part of the public record,” Department of Justice Canada said.
The US government presented in January a pair of federal indictments against Huawei and Meng personally on charges ranging from financial fraud to industrial espionage.
Federal prosecutors also formalized their request to Canada for Meng’s extradition.
The specific accusations against Meng involved alleged bank fraud, wire fraud and other financial misdeeds to evade unilateral US sanctions against Iran.
Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is the world’s largest maker of telecommunications and China’s flagship enterprise. Beijing has reacted angrily to the US legal offensive against the company and its executives.
Several Canadians have been detained in China since Meng’s arrest and most of Beijing’s public ire has been directed at Ottawa.
In late January, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired his country’s ambassador to China after the envoy suggested that the courts in Canada might rule against extradition.
US President Donald Trump’s suggestions that he could use the legal case against Huawei and Meng to pressure China on trade may be grounds for a Canadian judge to rebuff the extradition request, John McCallum said.
Meng’s attorneys cited those comments from Trump in a statement reacting to the announcement from the Canadian government.
“We are disappointed that the Minister of Justice has decided to issue an Authority to Proceed in the face of the political nature of the US charges and where the President of the United States has repeatedly stated that he would interfere in Ms. Meng’s case if he thought it would assist the US negotiations with China over a trade deal,” the defense team said.