By Agence France-Presse
Hearings on whether a top official with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei should be extradited to the United States to face accusations of violating Iran sanctions will begin on January 20, 2020, a Vancouver judge decided Thursday.
According to a timeline agreed upon by lawyers and accepted by British Columbia’s provincial supreme court, the five-day hearing in the case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou will be the first in a series of court procedures in the complex case, with an aim of wrapping up by October or November 2020, court spokesman Bruce Cohen told AFP.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1, 2018 at the request of US authorities who want to put her on trial on fraud charges for allegedly violating Iran sanctions and lying about it to US banks — accusations that Meng’s lawyers dispute.
She was released on a CAN$10 million (6.6 million euros) bail several days later and required to wear an electronic bracelet and surrender her passports.
Meng was not present for Thursday’s hearing.
Shortly after Meng’s arrest, which sparked a diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing, China arrested two Canadians — a former diplomat and a businessman — under suspicion of espionage and sentenced two other Canadians to death for drug trafficking.
China sees the whole affair as an attempt to undermine its flagship telecoms company, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has insisted “we have systems of justice that are independent from political interference and Canada will always defend that.”
Justice Minister David Lametti will make any final decisions on US extradition — a subject covered by a treaty between the two countries.
In a statement following Thursday’s hearing, Huawei’s Vice President of Communication Benjamin Howes said, “Huawei stands firmly with Ms. Meng in her pursuit of justice, and is confident that the Canadian judicial system will resolve this matter fairly and efficiently, in favor of Ms. Meng.”