Extraditing Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to the US would “embarrass” Canada and undermine its autonomy, her lawyers have argued, kicking off the first day of a court case that has whipped up a geopolitical storm between China and the west.
Lawyers acting for Ms Weng, the “Princess of Huawei” who has been under house arrest in Vancouver for more than a year, sought to convince a judge that charges laid against her by the US Justice Department would not stand up in Canada.
In deciding whether to surrender Ms Meng to the US, Judge Heather Holmes must decide whether the charges would constitute a crime if it occurred in Canada, under a principle called “double criminality” on which week’s hearing hangs.
The US accuses Ms Meng of breaking its sanctions against Iran and lying to HSBC bank in order to secure a loan by masquerading the origins of a Huawei affiliate in Iran’s capital, Tehran. Canada does not restrict trade with Iran, but the prosecution argues that Ms Meng’s lie amounts to fraud.
Ms Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei and its chief financial officer, has become a symbol of the increasingly fractured relationship between the US and China, dragging a previously neutral Canada into the mix.