VANCOUVER – Canada has approved extradition proceedings against the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, prompting a furious reaction from China.
Ms. Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was detained in Vancouver last December and she is under house arrest. In late January, the US justice department charged Ms. Meng and Huawei with conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran.
According to Reuters, Ms. Meng will appear in a Vancouver court on Wednesday, March 6, when a date will be set for her extradition hearing.
“Today, department of Justice Canada officials issued an authority to proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Ms. Meng Wanzhou,” the government said in a statement.
China, whose relations with Canada have deteriorated badly over the affair, denounced the decision and repeated previous demands for Ms. Meng’s release.
Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement on Saturday, March 1 that Beijing “deplores and firmly opposes the Canadian side’s obstinately moving forward the so-called judicial process”.
He said: “This is a severe political incident. We once again urge the US side to immediately withdraw the arrest warrant and extradition request for Ms. Meng Wanzhou and urge the Canadian side to immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure that she returns to China safe and sound.”
Reuters says that it could be years before Ms. Meng is sent to the United States, since Canada’s slow-moving justice system allows many decisions to be appealed.
Awkward situation for Canada
A final decision will probably come down to the federal justice minister, who will face the choice of angering the United States by rejecting the extradition bid, or China by accepting it.
President Trump told Reuters in December last year he would intervene if it served national security interests or helped close a trade deal with China. He, however, last week played down the idea of dropping the charges.
After Ms. Meng’s detention, China arrested two Canadians on national security grounds, and a Chinese court later sentenced to death a Canadian man who previously had been jailed for drug smuggling.
Ottawa rejects Beijing calls to release Ms. Meng, saying it cannot interfere with the judiciary.
Reports indicate that the Canadian Justice minister, David Lametti, declined to comment, while Huawei was not immediately available for comment.