Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 July 2019

Lawyers for Huawei CFO urge Canada to halt extradition proceedings

Meng Wanzhou has been detained in Vancouver since December on fraud charges

Huawei's financial chief Meng Wanzhou leaves her family home in Vancouver on May 8, 2019. She is facing extradition to the US. Reuters
Huawei's financial chief Meng Wanzhou leaves her family home in Vancouver on May 8, 2019. She is facing extradition to the US. Reuters

Lawyers for Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou – who was arrested on US fraud charges in December – urged Canada’s justice minister to withdraw extradition proceedings against Ms Wanzhou, labelling them “extraordinary” and without merit.

“From Canadian legal, jurisdictional and foreign policy perspectives, this extradition is simply extraordinary,” Ms Meng’s lawyers said in a statement on Monday.

“No similar extradition request has ever been entertained by Canada. Palpably, it is brought for political purposes as opposed to legitimate criminal law enforcement reasons.”

Ms Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in December on US charges alleging that she misled global banks about the Chinese technology giant’s relationship with a company that sold telecoms equipment to customers in Iran.

She denies any wrongdoing, and Huawei pleaded not guilty in a New York court in March, while China continues to demand her release. However, since her detention in Vancouver the case has sparked tensions between China and Canada.

After Ms Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadians and later charged them with espionage – which Canada says was unnecessary.

In the statement, Ms Meng’s lawyers said they sent a letter to Canadian justice minister David Lametti asking him to withdraw the extradition proceedings requested by the US.

“The extradition proceedings are without merit and cessation of the proceedings would be in the best interests of Canada’s national interests,” the statement said.

What is most “glaring” about the extradition request, it added, is that the conduct alleged against Ms Meng could never ground a criminal prosecution in Canada. “First, Canada does not police the conduct of foreign persons in foreign lands that have nothing to do with Canada,” it said. “Canada does not act as an international police force.”

Second, Ms Meng’s conduct could not constitute an offence in Canada because only the US has sanctions laws prohibiting foreign banks from doing US dollar business with foreign companies that trade with lran, the statement added.

For these reasons, the justice minister should exercise his statutory discretion to block the extradition request, the lawyers said.

The case against Ms Meng has heightened tensions between the world’s two largest economies, the US and China, which are in the midst of a year-long trade dispute after the US imposed tariffs on certain Chinese exports and China retaliated with further levies on goods from the US.

In recent weeks, China has either blocked or increased scrutiny of Canadian pork imports, and blocked imports of Canadian canola seed. In addition, at the beginning of June, China said it launched an investigation into US-based package delivery firm FedEx, claiming the logistics firm had violated relevant Chinese laws and industry regulations by failing to send packages to correct addresses.

FedEx had earlier apologised for errors regarding deliveries to Huawei, following reports that parcels were returned to senders. Two packages containing documents being shipped to Huawei from Japan were diverted to the US without authorisation, according to reports in May.

In response, the US Commerce Department said it was adding Huawei and its affiliates to its “entity list”, citing concerns over national security. The move prevents companies from supplying technology originating in the US to Huawei without state approval, potentially knocking $30 billion off Huawei’s revenues this year and next, the Chinese firm has said.

On Monday this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that FedEx filed a lawsuit to prevent the US government from requiring the logistics firm to enforce a crackdown on Huawei.

The lawsuit claims the US Commerce Department’s restrictions are forcing FedEx to police millions of packages it ships daily to ensure prohibited items are not being exported to Huawei – an illegal and logistically impossible task, FedEx claims.

Another technology giant, Google, warned this month that the restrictions on Huawei would compromise national security by encouraging the Chinese firm to develop its own operating system for smartphones. This could end up being more vulnerable to hacks than Google’s Android system, it said.

Updated: June 25, 2019 02:54 PM

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