World News

Lawyers for Huawei CFO call Canada prosecutor’s arguments ‘circular’

By Tessa Vikander and Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER/TORONTO (Reuters) – Extraditing Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou to the United States based on American sanctions against Iran would set a dangerous precedent and could even undermine Canada’s policy towards Iran, Meng’s lawyers argued in court documents released on Friday.

Meng, 47, was arrested at the Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of the United States, where she is charged with bank fraud and accused of misleading the bank HSBC <HSBA.L> about Huawei Technologies’ business in Iran. Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition.

Canada’s attorney general said in submissions released last week that Meng was being extradited because she fraudulently mislead HSBC, and that U.S. sanctions should be taken into account as contributing to the legal environment in which the fraud took place – not as a reason for the extradition.

Meng’s team called the attorney general’s argument “circular,” arguing that because prosecutors relied on U.S. sanctions to establish a risk of economic deprivation in both countries, “American law becomes Canadian law. Double criminality becomes single criminality.”

They wrote that allowing the attorney general to use U.S. sanctions as a reason to extradite set a dangerous precedent, because it would “interfere with the (Canadian) government’s prerogative in foreign affairs … In a democratic society, important public policy choices are best made in the elected legislative assembly rather than by judicial actors.”

Meng appeared in court on Friday for the first time in several months, for a case management conference to schedule hearings addressing the Canadian attorney general’s claims of privilege on releasing some documents requested by Meng’s legal team.

Wearing dark slacks and sipping from a pink thermos, Meng appeared calm but serious, refraining from waving to journalists as she has while entering the courtroom on other occasions.

The first phase of the extradition hearing will begin on Monday in a federal court in Vancouver.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto and Tessa Vikander in Vancouver; Editing by Marguerita Choy)