Canada judge rejects new request in Huawei extradition case

Meng Wanzhou has been in a two-year battle against extradition over charges the firm violated US sanctions on Iran.
Meng Wanzhou has been in a two-year battle against extradition over charges the firm violated US sanctions on Iran.PHOTO: REUTERS

VANCOUVER (AFP) - A Canadian judge has rejected a request from Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who wanted testimony from employees of the Chinese telecoms giant to be admitted as evidence in her fight against extradition to the United States.

Meng - whose father is Huawei founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei - has been in a two-year battle against extradition over charges the firm violated US sanctions on Iran.

She is accused of defrauding HSBC by falsely misrepresenting links between Huawei and its Skycom subsidiary, putting the bank at risk of violating sanctions against Teheran as it continued to clear US dollar transactions for Huawei.

Lawyers for Meng, 49, believe the affidavits could show the banking giant was aware of the links between Huawei and Skycom, which sold telecoms equipment to Iran.

The evidence would help demonstrate the prosecution case was "manifestly unreliable", according to the lawyers.

In a decision released late last Friday (March 12), Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that the testimony requested by Meng's defence "relates to issues properly within the domain of a trial, not the extradition hearing".

Justice Holmes said it was not for her to rule on issues of credibility in an extradition hearing.

"The proposed evidence could do no more than offer an alternative narrative from that set out" by the United States in its case against Meng, she wrote. "These would take the extradition hearing beyond its proper scope."

Last week, Huawei confirmed that Meng was taking HSBC to court in Hong Kong to access banking records she says will help her battle extradition.

In February, she lost a similar legal bid in London.

Meng's extradition battle in Vancouver has entered its final phase. Hearings resume on Monday and are expected to end in mid-May, barring appeals.

Washington has accused Huawei of stealing American trade secrets and banned US semiconductor chip makers from selling to it.

The case has caused a major diplomatic rift between Canada and China.

Meng was arrested on a US warrant during a Vancouver stopover in December 2018 and is being held under house arrest at her Vancouver mansion.

Two Canadians - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor - were detained in China days later in apparent retaliation for Meng's arrest. The pair have since had virtually no contact with the outside world.