Ottawa, March 2 (IANS) The Canadian government has given its go-ahead to begin the extradition of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou to the US, leading to China’s dissatisfaction and Beijing even questioning Ottawa’s authority.
The extradition process of Meng’s, who has been accused of helping the Chinese tech giant to dodge American sanctions on Iran by Washington, was given the “authority to proceed” by Canada on Friday.
The daughter of Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, Meng was detained in Vancouver last December at Washington’s behest. She is currently free on bail, reports Efe news.
“Today, Department of Justice Canada officials issued an Authority to Proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Meng Wanzhou,” the government said in a statement on Friday.
Shortly after the order, China responded that it was “utterly dissatisfied” with the outcome of events and said Beijing “firmly opposes the issuance of authority to proceed”, Xinhua news agency quoted a spokesperson of the Chinese embassy here as saying.
“This is not a merely judicial case, but a political persecution against a Chinese high-tech enterprise. The subsequent developments have proved this.
“The so-called ‘rule of law’ and ‘judicial independence’ asserted by Canada cannot cover up the mistakes made by the Canadian side on the case,” the spokesperson said.
The date of the extradition hearing has been scheduled for March 6 by the provincial Supreme Court of British Columbia.
“Judging from the obvious political interference presented on this case, if Canada really abides by the principle of rule of law and judiciary independence, the Canadian side should refuse the extradition request of the US and immediately release Meng Wanzhou in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Extradition Act of Canada,” it added.
“The final result of the Canadian court to handle this case will be a touchstone for testing whether Canada adheres to the judicial independence or not. We will wait and see,” the Chinese spokesperson was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Earlier the Department of Justice Canada said: “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.”
In January, the US government presented a pair of federal indictments against Huawei and Meng personally on charges ranging from financial fraud to industrial espionage.
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 also reacted sharply 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 even fired his country’s ambassador to China after the envoy suggested Canada might rule against extradition.
It was then believed that Trump’s suggestions that he could use the legal case against Huawei and Meng to pressure China on trade might be grounds for the Canadian judge to rebuff the extradition request.
Meng’s attorneys late on Friday cited that comment from Trump in the statement reacting to the announcement from the Canadian government.