Canada on Friday approved extradition proceedings against Huawei’s global Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, Reuters reported. Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver last December and is currently under house arrest. She faces extradition to the United States.
The US Justice Department in January had charged Meng and Huawei with conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran. Meng is also one of the vice chairpersons on Huawei’s board of directors. Meng faces fraud charges in the US for allegedly covering up her company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions. She was detained while changing planes in Vancouver.
“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 on Friday. Meng will appear in a court in Vancouver on March 6, when a date will be set for her extradition hearing.
China, whose relations with Canada have deteriorated over the matter, criticised the decision and repeated previous demands for Meng’s release. In a statement on Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that Beijing “deplores and firmly opposes the Canadian side’s obstinately moving forward the so-called judicial process”.
Lu described the episode as “a severe political incident”. “We once again urge the US side to immediately withdraw the arrest warrant and extradition request for Ms Meng Wanzhou and urge the Canadian side to immediately release Ms Meng Wanzhou and ensure that she returns to China safe and sound,” he said.
China’s embassy in Ottawa said it was “utterly dissatisfied” with the decision, the BBC reported. In a statement, Meng’s defence team said they were disappointed by the decision “in the face of the political nature of the US charges”.
“Our client maintains that she is innocent of any wrongdoing and that the US prosecution and extradition constitutes an abuse of the processes of law,” they said.
Meng is accused of “conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions” and if convicted faces more than 30 years in prison in the US.
After Meng’s detention, China had arrested two Canadians on national security grounds. A Chinese court had also sentenced to death a Canadian man who had previously been jailed for drug smuggling.