By Moira Warburton and Tessa Vikander
VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Lawyers for Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will have a chance on Wednesday to respond to arguments made by the Canadian government, as Huawei pushes to add an allegation of abuse of process to block her extradition to the United States.
The hearings, which will finish on Wednesday, are the latest in Meng’s extradition case taking place in the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Meng, 48, was arrested in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States charging her with bank fraud for misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran and causing the bank to break U.S. sanction law.
The arrest has strained China’s relations with the United States and Canada. Soon after Meng’s detention, China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, charging them with espionage.
The daughter of billionaire Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition while under house arrest in Vancouver.
The hearings are referred to as Vukelich hearings, meaning the judge must decide whether the defence’s latest allegation is plausible enough to be worth fully litigating.
If the judge rules in Meng’s favour, an additional set of hearings will be added to argue the allegation. A decision on this is expected by Oct. 30.
Meng’s lawyers argued over Monday and Tuesday that the United States omitted key facts about her communication with HSBC about Huawei’s business in Iran, stating that it “misdescribed the facts to construct a stronger case of alleged fraud” when it requested that Canada arrest Meng on its behalf in December 2018, to the extent that constituted a violation of Meng’s human rights.
The defence largely relied on a PowerPoint presentation, which it said the United States misrepresented.
In their arguments on Tuesday, lawyers for the Canadian government accused the defence of attempting to litigate the fraud charges against Meng in the Canadian extradition case.
Crown lawyer Robert Frater asked the judge to keep the case “on the straight and narrow” and “refuse to spend precious court time on issues that have no hope of success.”
Meng’s extradition hearings are scheduled to finish in April 2021, although the case could drag on for years if either side chooses to appeal the initial decision.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton and Tessa Vikander in Vancouver; Editing by Denny Thomas and Stephen Coates)
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