MONTREAL • New extradition hearings involving the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei kicked off in Vancouver, after nearly three years of court battles and diplomatic sparring.
Meng Wanzhou, 49, the daughter of company founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei, is fighting extradition to the United States.
She is accused of defrauding HSBC Bank by falsely misrepresenting links between Huawei and Skycom, a subsidiary that sold telecoms equipment to Iran, putting the bank at risk of violating US sanctions against Teheran as it continued to clear US dollar transactions for Huawei.
Meng appeared in public smiling as she left her mansion on Wednesday in the western Canadian coastal city, where she has to wear an ankle monitor at all times.
The hearings are being held in the British Columbia Supreme Court over the coming weeks. On the first day, Meng's defence again argued that the US filed a lawsuit that abused their client's rights.
"This case is built on misinformation and selectively omitted facts. The arrest of Ms Meng was a master class on how to violate someone's rights", Mr Alykhan Velshi, Huawei Canada's vice-president of corporate affairs, said before proceedings. He called the case a "political prosecution".
Meng is "our CFO, first and foremost. She's busy with that. But at the same time she focuses extensively on this case. She has read all the court documents. She shows up in court every day. She's a very strong person", he said.
Huawei Canada said in a statement: "Counsel for Ms Meng will argue that the United States has failed to establish a plausible case for prosecution. It follows that committal must be denied and Ms Meng be allowed to return home."
Canada said Meng's evidence and allegations "can really only be properly litigated before a US trial judge" and do not belong in a routine extradition procedure.
The hearings are due to end on Aug 20 but no decision is expected for a few months.
Days after Meng's arrest in 2018, the Chinese government imprisoned two Canadians, a former diplomat and a businessman, on espionage charges. Both have since been tried, but the verdicts are unknown.
The arrests were seen by Ottawa as retaliation for Meng's detention, which Beijing denies.