Ottawa/Beijing: Lawyers for a senior executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei asked the justice minister of Canada on Monday to quash extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou. They also asked for her release.
The court proceedings are scheduled to start on 20 January. Meng is currently out on bail. The United States wants to put Meng on trial for fraud for allegedly violating Iran sanctions and lying about it to US banks — accusations that her lawyers dispute. A copy of the letter to Justice Minister David Lametti was not made public.
But in a press release announcing the letter, Meng’s lawyers urged Lametti to “withdraw the proceedings because the extradition proceedings are without merit and cessation of the proceedings would be in the best interests of Canada’s national interests.” They argue that the case is “palpably” political and “simply extraordinary” from legal, jurisdictional and foreign policy perspectives.
“In our view, Canada is at cross-roads respecting the United States’ request that Canada extradite Ms Meng, for conduct that could not be an offence in Canada and which is at odds with Canadian values and established foreign policy regarding Iran,” they said.
Under Canadian law, the justice minister can intervene in extradition cases.
Canada’s relations with China have soured over Meng’s arrest on a US warrant in December 2018 during a flight stopover in Vancouver.
In a move widely seen as retaliation and described by some observers as “hostage diplomacy,” Beijing detained two Canadians — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — and blocked Canadian agricultural shipments worth billions of dollars. It later accused Kovrig of espionage and alleged that Spavor provided him with intelligence.
Former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien recently urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reject the US extradition request and cancel the case.
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland disagreed. “It would set a very dangerous precedent for Canada to alter its behaviour when it comes to honouring an extradition treaty in response to external pressure,” she said. Lametti’s office said it would be “inappropriate” to comment while Meng’s case is before the courts.