VANCOUVER—Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is scheduled to appear in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday as she continues to fight extradition to the United States.
It’s been five months since her arrest. Here’s everything you need to know to get up to speed on the saga so far:
Who is Meng Wanzhou?
Meng is Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei. Her mother, Meng Jun, also has connections to the Chinese government as the daughter of the former deputy governor of Sichuan province.
Experts in Chinese society and history say the Communist Party’s swift reaction to her arrest shows she is treated much like a “princeling” within the country’s elite inner circle.
The RCMP arrested Meng on Dec. 1, 2018 in Vancouver International Airport during a stopover on her way to Mexico from Hong Kong.
Meng is alleged to have “repeatedly lied” to an executive of a multinational bank during a presentation in August 2013 when she distanced Huawei from Skycom, which the U.S. says was Huawei’s “long-standing Iranian affiliate.”
What is Meng’s response?
Meng has denied all wrongdoing through her lawyers.
She is suing the Canada Border Services Agency, the RCMP and the federal government, alleging “false imprisonment” and “breach of constitutional rights,” according to B.C. Supreme Court documents.
The statement of claim, filed March 1, alleges Canadian officials “intentionally delayed” executing the warrant for Meng’s arrest upon her arrival at Vancouver International Airport. According to the suit, Meng was illegally searched and questioned “under the guise of a routine border check … to extract evidence from her before she was arrested and provided with her rights.”
Legal experts say the suit is a strategic move that could help Meng here in Canadian court, preventing her extradition, or in American court if she stands trial there.
Meng’s lawyers were last in court on March 22, requesting copies of the data on the devices seized from her during her arrest. The judge granted the request.
What is Huawei?
Huawei was founded by Meng’s father Ren Zhengfei in 1987 and has grown to represent China’s dramatic economic rise.
The company is a telecommunications giant, one of a handful companies capable of developing and manufacturing 5G network technologies — viewed as the next major evolution of wireless systems.
What are the charges against Huawei?
On Jan. 28, American authorities announced 23 charges against Huawei, ranging from technology theft to bank fraud, obstruction of justice and money laundering.
The U.S. also unveiled 10 charges in a case filed in Seattle that alleges Huawei stole technology from American wireless company T-Mobile, which was developing a robot.
Huawei has denied all charges.
The United States, Australia and other Western countries are cautioning against working with Huawei on telecommunication projects based on security risks and moral concerns. Huawei has consistently denied being controlled by the Chinese government.
How does extradition work in Canada?
On March 1, Justice Canada gave the go-ahead to the extradition process. It is now up to a judge to determine whether Meng should be extradited or not. The process can take months or even years.
The telecom executive is currently out on $10-million bail, living with a curfew and an electronic ankle bracelet in one of her two multimillion-dollar Vancouver homes.
Meng’s lawyer is arguing that the charges American authorities have thrown at her have no equivalent in Canada and therefore she cannot be extradited.
If the courts commit Meng to extradition, the final approval will come from Canada’s justice minister, David Lemetti.
What has Canada’s response been?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said Canada will follow “the rule of law” when it comes to Meng’s extradition as well as the matter of Huawei’s role in developing Canada’s 5G network.
That narrative was called into question in January when Canada’s ambassador to China, David McCallum, told Star Vancouver it would be “great for Canada” if the United States dropped its extradition request for Meng. Trudeau fired McCallum the next day.
In March, Meng’s lawyers argued her arrest was political in nature, citing suggestions by U.S. President Donald Trump that he might personally intervene in the case should a favourable outcome in U.S.-China trade negotiations be forthcoming.
What about China’s apparent retaliation?
Less than two weeks after Meng was arrested, Chinese authorities detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian businessman Michael Spavor in a move experts have characterized as retaliatory. Both men are still in Chinese custody.
Canadian Robert Schellenberg has been serving a 15-year sentence in China for drug trafficking — but in January, he was suddenly sentenced to death after a one-day trial. Some human-rights experts fear the move is an attempt to strong-arm the Canadian government into releasing Meng.
There are roughly 200 Canadians detained in China.
Economic pressure has also been tied to the case. Citing concerns about pests, China has sent non-compliance notifications to major Canadian exporters of canola seed, choking off trade.
What’s going to happen Wednesday?
The court appearance will likely be a small development in the ongoing saga; it could be as short as 30 minutes, according to the department of justice.
Justice Canada confirmed the appearance is “administrative in nature” and will focus on scheduling upcoming court dates. Meng’s lawyers will also be able to bring forward additional pre-hearing applications and discuss minor bail amendments.
With files from Perrin Grauer, Michael Mui, Tonda MacCharles and The Canadian Press