TORONTO – A Canadian court ruled on Wednesday that Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s initial extradition hearing will take place on May 8 in the western city of Vancouver.
The senior executive with that Chinese telecommunications giant faces fraud charges in the United States, where an indictment unveiled in January accused her of deceiving banks into approving transactions that may have violated unilateral US sanctions against Iran.
Supreme Court of British Columbia Justice Heather Holmes set the date of the first hearing in the extradition process, which is expected to drag on for months or even years, after an agreement was reached between prosecutors and Meng’s defense team.
Meng, who was arrested on Dec. 1 at the request of US prosecutors and has been free on bail since Dec. 11, attended Wednesday’s brief hearing in the company of her attorneys.
The bail conditions for Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, stipulate that she cannot leave her six-bedroom home in Vancouver – one of two properties she and her husband own in that city – except under certain conditions.
During Wednesday’s hearing, one of Meng’s attorneys, Robert Peck, said the case was unusual because of the political implications and even mentioned comments made by US President Donald Trump.
In December, Trump said he would intervene in the case if he felt it was necessary to secure a trade deal with China. Meng’s attorneys have cited those comments in claiming the charges are politically motivated.
Peck also said he would submit motions alleging that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) acted improperly prior to her Dec. 1 arrest at the Vancouver International Airport.
Meng, who had a layover in Vancouver after arriving from Hong Kong, had been planning to continue on to Mexico.
On March 1, Meng’s attorneys sued the RCMP, the CBSA and the Canadian federal government for alleged “serious breaches of her constitutional rights” when she was held for three hours without explanation or access to her attorneys before her arrest.
The civil claim, filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, alleges that Meng suffered “mental distress, anxiety and loss of freedom” when she was detained, searched and interrogated at the Vancouver airport for three hours “under the guise of a routine customs” examination.
Border security agents and a police officer, who allegedly unlawfully seized Meng’s cellphones and computers and obtained passwords, detained the executive “for the express purpose of obtaining information which they and the RCMP and/or (US Department of Justice) did not believe would be obtained if (Meng) was immediately arrested.”
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.