Extradition Hearings Begin for Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Officer Held in Canada

Extradition Hearings Begin for Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Officer Held in Canada

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — She has handed her days portray flowers, conferring along with her legal professionals, studying books and bettering her English, ensconced in two completely different multimillion-dollar mansions in unique sections of Vancouver.

But on Friday, after town skilled a uncommon snowstorm, Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei chief monetary officer detained in Vancouver and awaiting an extradition listening to on fraud expenses, might be seen playfully throwing a snowball outdoors her home.

Then she noticed a photographer. Her smile became a frown.

In the 13 months since Ms. Meng, 47, was arrested on the Vancouver airport, her life has been circumscribed by the phrases of her $10 million bail. On Monday, it entered a brand new part when her extradition listening to formally started.

This a part of the hearing, which might final every week, will look at whether or not the crime Ms. Meng is accused of constitutes against the law in Canada, a prerequisite below Canadian legislation for her extradition to proceed. This is called the authorized idea of “double criminality.”

The United States, in a January 2019 indictment, charged, amongst different issues, that Ms. Meng had deceived 4 banks into clearing transactions in Iran by way of Skycom, a subsidiary, violating American sanctions in opposition to Iran.

Prosecutors say Ms. Meng lied to representatives of the financial institution HSBC in 2013 about Huawei’s relationship with Skycom, telling them it was a associate when it was, in actual fact, a subsidiary. That put HSBC prone to sanctions.

On Monday, at the start of the proceedings, Richard Peck, a member of Ms. Meng’s protection staff, mentioned the case needs to be dismissed as a result of it was based on the accusation of breach of United States sanctions in opposition to Iran — sanctions that Canada doesn’t settle for. The declare of fraud, he mentioned, was “a facade.”

In the courtroom, Ms. Meng, sitting in a bulletproof defendant’s field behind the courtroom, appeared composed and smiling as she conferred along with her authorized staff.

If her case goes forward, the courtroom can even hear her legal professionals’ arguments that her rights had been violated when she was arrested.

Ms. Meng’s arrest has pushed Canada into the middle of a tense diplomatic battle between China and the United States. President Trump as soon as mentioned he may think about interceding in the case if that helped him attain a commerce take care of China.

In what many known as a retaliation for the arrest of Ms. Meng — one in all China’s most outstanding enterprise executives — China has arrested two Canadians, accused them of espionage and detained them in secret jails, disadvantaged of entry to legal professionals and their households.

It is unclear when a ultimate ruling in Ms. Meng’s extradition case will probably be made. In the meantime, she might face many extra months in Vancouver.

Vincent Pang, a Huawei board member and longtime buddy of Ms. Meng’s, visits her about as soon as a month. He mentioned in an interview on Friday that he and the corporate “believe she is innocent, and so does she.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Pang mentioned, Ms. Meng is dealing with huge emotional stress due to the uncertainty about her future and from being separated for lengthy intervals from her 4 kids, all of whom reside in China.

He mentioned her two youngest kids had been in Vancouver faculties on the time of her arrest, which upended their lives. “She feels sorry for her family,” Mr. Pang mentioned.

According to one of many safety guards monitoring her home, her household got here to see her throughout the Christmas holidays. Her mom and husband have taken turns retaining her firm.

Ms. Meng lives in a seven-bedroom gated mansion in Vancouver’s unique Shaughnessy neighborhood, valued at about 14 million Canadian {dollars}.

Under the phrases of her bail, she is ready to journey comparatively freely in regards to the metropolis, though she has an 11 p.m. curfew and a GPS tracker round her ankle. Her bail circumstances, which give her the liberty to buy groceries, are in stark distinction with the 2 Canadians detained in China, and have been criticized in Canada.

But she seldom leaves the home, mentioned one in all two unarmed guards, who was standing close to a makeshift tent outdoors Ms. Meng’s mansion on Friday. When she does, he mentioned, it’s often to fulfill along with her legal professionals.

Mr. Pang mentioned that whereas Ms. Meng lived in a mansion, it was successfully a gilded cage. He mentioned she had misplaced numerous weight.

“It’s not about how big her home is but what’s in her heart,” he mentioned, including, “She feels trapped.”

Despite entreaties by him and others buddies to exit extra, Ms. Meng prefers to remain at residence, Mr. Pang mentioned. “If you’re detained, you don’t feel like shopping or eating,” he mentioned.

Still, on one event, Ms. Meng was noticed searching at Holt Renfrew, the posh retailer. And on China’s National Day, she wore a vivid pink Gucci gown to courtroom, adorned with an enamel Chinese flag pin.

Ms. Meng has employed an A-list authorized staff led by David Martin, one in all Canada’s most high-powered legal professionals, who focuses on white-collar crime. He has argued circumstances on the nation’s Supreme Court and has defended members of international governments and ultrarich captains of business looking for to keep away from extradition.

While Ms. Meng retains her chief monetary officer title at Huawei and continues to take a task within the enterprise, Mr. Pang mentioned her duties had been considerably scaled again, on condition that Shenzhen, the place Huawei has its headquarters, is 16 hours forward of Vancouver.

In December, on the primary anniversary of her arrest, Ms. Meng wrote a reflective letter, printed on Huawei’s web site, during which she mentioned she had skilled moments of “fear,” “pain” and “disappointment” — but in addition acceptance.

“When I was in Shenzhen, time used to pass by very quickly,” she wrote. She continued, “Right now, time seems to pass slowly.”

After the letter was launched, there was a backlash on social media in opposition to Huawei and sly allusions to the story of a former firm worker, Li Hongyuan, who was jailed for greater than eight months after he demanded severance pay when his contract wasn’t renewed. Mr. Li was ultimately launched with no expenses, however some in contrast his detainment with Ms. Meng’s luxurious environment.

In latest interviews with worldwide information shops, Ms. Meng’s father, Ren Zhengfei, who’s Huawei’s billionaire founder, prompt that her detention had introduced the 2 nearer collectively.

Before her arrest, Mr. Ren mentioned, Ms. Meng not often known as or texted him. Now the 2 communicate usually by telephone.

When Mr. Ren turned 75 in October, Ms. Meng posted a handwritten birthday greeting on social media. The submit included a photograph of her standing open air, sporting her ankle monitor. The letter was signed “Piggy” — a nickname apparently given to her when she was a chubby baby.

Given that Ms. Meng is needed by the United States on fraud expenses, the irony has not gone unnoticed amongst native residents in her neighborhood that her 8,047-square-foot home is only a few doorways down from the residence of the United States consul normal, the place an American flag flaps within the wind.

A brief stroll away is the hulking Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China.

Ji Jiahao, 22, got here to Vancouver from Shanghai to review English and lives in a mansion on the identical avenue as Ms. Meng. He mentioned Ms. Meng had not damaged any legal guidelines and needs to be launched.

“Canada has always been the little brother of United States,” he mentioned. “It does whatever the United States does.”

Hayden Rubensohn, a physician who works within the space, mentioned Ms. Meng’s bail circumstances confirmed that Canada was a humane nation. But he mentioned they did spur some resentment in a metropolis with an enormous financial gaps.

“It’s hard for people to see foreigners living with so much wealth,” he mentioned, “when people in Vancouver are struggling to make ends meet.”

Tracy Sherlock and Winston Szeto contributed reporting from Vancouver, and Raymond Zhong from Beijing.

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