A Vancouver judge on Wednesday allowed Canadian officials to continue the U.S. extradition of Huawei CFO. Meng Wanzhou, 48, hence lost her first real line of defense against the Trump administration's DOJ.
The daughter of Huawei founder, Ren Zhengfei, has been under house arrest at her Vancouver estate since late 2018. Authorities apprehended her at the behest of Washington prosecutors while she was changing flights on her way from Hong Kong to Mexico. The charges against her include financial fraud, racketeering, and a conspiracy to violate U.S. trade sanctions.
Meng's legal team tried to have the U.S. extradition request dismissed from day one. The controversial arrest sparked a complex diplomatic incident, as well as countless threats from Beijing.
Nonetheless, the extradition proceedings have now been given a judicial all-clear from the British Columbia Supreme Court. Huawei's top executive originally argued the very concept of her potential U.S. extradition is illegal. That would be because the stateside fraud allegations constitute no violation any Canadian law.
Yet Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes rejected that defense as baseless, stating a fraud damaging to an American bank could indeed be prosecuted in Canada. The ruling puts a checkmark on the double criminality principle of the case, allowing the U.S. extradition process of Huawei's CFO to continue.
Huawei CFO faces U.S. extradition as Trump levies new Hong Kong threat
Meng's now left with no choice but to attempt defending herself against the extradition demands directly. Both Huawei and China's ruling party labeled the arrest as yet another example of baseless theatrics from President Trump.
However, the DOJ said it's been building the case against Meng since the early days of President Obama's second term, three years prior to the inauguration of the incumbent U.S. head.
While the charges against Meng are numerous, Washington's main accusation is that Meng personally defrauded American banks.
She allegedly did so to help Huawei circumvent stateside trade sanctions placed on Iran and North Korea via undisclosed subsidiaries.
Huawei CFO's fight against U.S. extradition will continue next month with more hearings. Meng is facing decades in federal prison if she ends up in the grasp of American prosecutors.
The timing of her latest legal defeat coincided with the Trump administration's renewed anti-China push. Namely, the White House on Wendesday urged Congress to strip Hong Kong of its special trade status.
Such a move would deliver another major blow to the Chinese economy whose Western exports largely depend on Hong Kong's privileged position – which itself is entirely dependent on the city's political autonomy.