The extradition hearing for a Huawei executive detained at Washington’s request began in Canada on Monday.
Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daugher of the Chinese firm’s founder, is wanted by the US on fraud charges that she misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
Ms Meng, who is free on bail and living in one of the two Vancouver mansions she owns, sat next to her lawyers wearing a black dress with white polka dots inside the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
She waved at reporters as she arrived at court.The 47-year-old was arrested on December 1 2018 at Vancouver’s airport, with Canada deciding three months later there was sufficient evidence to take the case to a judge.
Beijing has accused Washington of engaging in a politically motivated attempt to hurt the company, with the case set against the backdrop of ongoing trade negotiations between the two countries.
Ms Meng’s arrest set off a diplomatic furore and has severely strained Canadian relations with China.
Huawei statement regarding Meng Wanzhou pic.twitter.com/JtO88uTXYD
— Huawei Canada (@Huawei_Canada) January 20, 2020
China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on December 10 2018 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Ms Meng.
The men have been accused of spying and remain imprisoned.
A Chinese court also sentenced a Canadian to death in a sudden retrial, overturning a 15-year prison term handed down earlier.
The fraud allegations were a “facade” and the charges are really about Washington attempting to enforce its sanctions on Iran, Ms Meng’s lawyer, Richard Peck, said in court on Monday.“Would we be here in the absence of US sanctions law? My response is no,” Mr Peck said.
The extradition hearing’s first session runs until Friday with the overall process expected to conclude in October.
The judge can recommend extradition but Canada’s justice minister must decide if Ms Meng is to be sent to the US.
A second hearing about whether the law was followed by Canada Border Service Agency during her arrest is scheduled to begin in June.