Meng Wanzhou's defence team seeks to delay extradition hearing
VANCOUVER -- Lawyers for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou argued in B.C Supreme Court on Monday to delay the Chinese tech giant executive’s extradition hearing until August.
According to a notice of application filed with the court, Meng’s defence counsel seeks to adjourn the upcoming three weeks of hearings scheduled to begin next week, until Aug. 3, 2021.
Last week, Meng’s lawyers reached an agreement with HSBC bank in Hong Kong to obtain documents that could impact the extradition process after a similar request was denied by courts in the U.K.
Meng’s lawyers argued before Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that they need a reasonable pause in the hearings in order to review the documents.
The notice of application also indicates that Meng’s lawyers have written to the Attorney General of Canada to argue it has a duty to investigate their allegation that the U.S. “materially misled” Canadian courts with the information it provided when requesting her arrest and extradition.
But Crown lawyers oppose the request. In a written response filed with B.C. Supreme Court, lawyers for the Attorney General argued that Meng’s request should be denied because “none of (the) factors (in Meng’s application) justify an adjournment.”
“The alleged need to gather information in Hong Kong is not based on any objective evidence that the documents obtained would be relevant or admissible in this proceeding,” the Crown wrote in its submission.
“It is the latest in a series of attempts to turn these proceedings into a trial that should properly take place in the (U.S.),” the Crown continued.
Meng’s lawyers also wrote that because of the third wave of the pandemic, and the need for lawyers to travel to B.C. from elsewhere in Canada, three weeks of hearings in April and May are “unadvisable and potentially dangerous.”
Again, Crown lawyers object. The Attorney General responded in its written submissions that the courts have been able to adapt to the pandemic with hearings taking place by remote attendance when necessary.
The Crown also argued that there is an urgent need to adhere to a schedule in proceedings that have “attracted enormous public interest."
"There is no justification for this 11th hour attempt at delay," said Robert Frater, Q.C., a Crown lawyer.
Meng has been under house arrest in Vancouver since she was arrested on an extradition request from the U.S. at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018.
She faces bank and wire fraud charges in the U.S., where federal authorities allege she misrepresented Huawei’s relationship with SkyCom, a Huawei subsidiary doing business in Iran, during a presentation to HSBC. This, they allege, put HSBC at risk of violating U.S. sanction laws against Iran.
Meng and Huawei have repeatedly denied the charges.
Justice Holmes will issue a decision on Meng’s application to delay the next set of hearings on Wednesday afternoon.
The Huawei executive was scheduled to return to court April 26, with her extradition hearing, also known as a committal hearing, currently expected to be heard during the first week of May.