U.S. formally requests Meng Wanzhou's extradition, case back in court in March
VANCOUVER -- The clock is ticking for Canada to decide whether to proceed with a high-profile extradition case involving a senior executive of Huawei Technologies, which has touched off furor in diplomatic relations with China.
A British Columbia court heard Tuesday that the United States has issued a formal extradition request for Meng Wanzhou, the company's chief financial officer and daughter of its founder. Meng was arrested Dec. 1 at Vancouver's airport on a request from U.S. authorities.
Canada's Department of Justice now has until March 1 to determine whether to issue an authority to proceed, which authorizes an extradition hearing. If Canada issues that authority, Meng would next appear in court March 6 and hearing dates would be set.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice William Ehrcke said proceedings could still take some time.
"I have no idea whether we're looking at months or years," he said. "At this point, that's completely unknown. It will become clearer as time progresses."
Canada has a treaty with the U.S. that obligates it to co-operate with extradition requests. The treaty requires that the conduct for which extradition is sought be considered criminal in both countries.
If an extradition hearing is held and a judge commits Meng for extradition, Justice Minister David Lametti would ultimately determine whether she would be extradited to face charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit both.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Lametti acknowledged legal procedures can be complex.
"By the time all the individual's rights are exhausted they can take a long time," he added.
"I only will have to make a decision at the end of the process, if and only if there is an actual extradition order. I would have the final say in executing that order, yes."
The U.S. Department of Justice laid out its case Monday against Meng and Huawei. Both Meng and the company have denied any wrongdoing.
The indictment, based on 23 grand jury allegations, accuses Huawei and Meng of misrepresenting their ownership of a Hong Kong-based subsidiary between 2007 and 2017 in an effort to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran.
The company's U.S. branch is also accused of stealing trade secrets and equipment from cellphone provider T-Mobile USA.
Meng, 46, has been free on bail since Dec. 11, living in one of her two multimillion dollar homes in Vancouver while wearing an electronic tracking device and being monitored by a security company.
Meng and her husband provided $7.5 million in cash for the $10-million bail and the rest was covered by four sureties, including three people who put up their homes as a deposit and a fourth who brought a $50,000 certified cheque to the court.
On Tuesday, Ehrcke agreed to replace the woman who brought the cheque with a couple who have agreed to put up their home and some money as a surety.
The court also heard that Meng has beefed up her defence team. In addition to criminal defence lawyer David Martin, she will also be represented by several other attorneys including Vancouver-based Richard Peck and associates from his firm.
Peck is known for acting as an independent prosecutor for Ontario in the dangerous driving and negligence case against former attorney general Michael Bryant in the death of a cyclist, in which Crown prosecutors ultimately withdrew the charges. He later worked as a special prosecutor for B.C. in the death of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who died after police stunned him with a Taser in Vancouver's airport.
Also joining the team is Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer Scott Fenton. He represented David Del Mastro, who was acquitted of running a scheme to funnel money to the political campaign of his cousin, former Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro.
Meng did not comment as she rushed from court Tuesday to a black SUV waiting for her in a parkade.
China's foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the U.S. is using its national power to "tarnish the image of and crack down on specific Chinese companies in an attempt to strangle their lawful and legitimate operations."
"We once again urge the U.S. side to immediately drop its arrest warrant and formal extradition request for Ms. Meng Wanzhou," it said.
"We also urge the Canadian side to take China's solemn position seriously, immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure her lawful and legitimate rights and interests, and stop pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for the U.S."
Members of the U.S. Senate intelligence committee were briefed Tuesday about global counterintelligence perils. The Huawei case was mentioned only indirectly, but intelligence officials described China's "ongoing quest" for global superiority.
"China's pursuit of intellectual property, sensitive research and development plans and U.S. personal data remains a significant threat to the U.S. government and the private sector," said Dan Coats, the U.S. director of national intelligence.
-- With files from Mia Rabson and Mike Blanchfield in Ottawa and James McCarten in Washington, D.C.
Department of Justice Canada says #MengWanzhou will make an application to change the individual named as a surety in her bail order.The Crown is said to agree to application and it was anticipated at the time of the original bail order. #CTVNews #huawei— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) January 29, 2019
#MengWanzhou just entered the courtroom. She is wearing a black lululemon sweatshirt and she is talking to her lawyer. The courtroom is filling up with lawyers, journalists and members of the public . #huawei #ctvnews— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) January 29, 2019
#MengWanzhou ‘s lawyer is now speaking to the judge.He says the Defence team for #Meng has been expanded.Richard Peck and Scott Fenton (and their teams) have been added to Defence team. #CTVNews #Huawei— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) January 29, 2019
Defence now saying today’s proceeding will deal with a change in surety and now he is discussing the Feb.6th court date.He is recommending that it is unnecessary for her to come back on the 6th. and that she could come back in March. #MengWanzhou #huawei #ctvnews— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) January 29, 2019
Defence says looking to move proceedings to March 6th as there is the need to wait for a response from Canada’s Minister of Justice regarding the US extradition request.The date change is a joint request with the prosecution. #MengWanzhou #Huawei #ctvnews— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) January 29, 2019
With a record of the case now filed, Defence for #MengWanzhou is suggesting the appearance that was scheduled for Feb 6th is not https://t.co/4ZjNzVckXb next court appearance will be March 6th at 10am. #Huawei #CTVNews— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) January 29, 2019
Defence is now addressing issue about the change in surety.He says the intent of the request is to have one of original suggested sureties added back to bail conditions.This person originally did not have all the proper documents to make him an official surety. #CTVNews #Huawei— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) January 29, 2019
So because the original surety didn’t have the proper paperwork at the conclusion of the bail hearing last year,another woman stepped in.This person stepped in with a cash deposit.Defence and Prosecution have agreed to have the original surety restored.#Huawei #CTVNews— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) January 29, 2019