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Canada begins US extradition process for top Huawei official

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was held on an extradition warrant in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada December 11, 2018. ©REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

Canada began extradition proceedings on Friday for Meng Wanzhou, a top figure of Chinese electronics giant Huawei. Meanwhile, China has detained two Canadian nationals and has given a death sentence to a third.

"Today, Department of Justice Canada officials issued an Authority to Proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Ms. Meng Wanzhou," the government said in a statement.

Meng, 47, is accused by Washington of violating US sanctions on Iran. She was arrested at the request of the US while changing planes in Vancouver last December. She is not only the chief financial officer of Huawei, but the daughter of the company’s founder.

Abuse of extradition treaties, says China

The US and Canada are "abusing their bilateral extradition treaty to apply arbitrary coercive measures against Chinese citizens, in violation of their rights and legitimate interests,” said China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Khang.

Meng is out on bail and is due in court on 6 March, where prosecutors will prevent the evidence against her and push for extradition. The process could take months, but the final decision will be made by Canada’s attorney general.

China expressed its "strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to Canada, which obstinately moves forward the so-called judicial extradition process."

Spokesman Lu said that China had “solemnly protested” for her release, and has also called for the US to drop its extradition request. China has called the arrest politically motivated as a way to undermine Huawei, which denies the charges.

Canadian nationals detained in China - tit for tat?

Michael Kovrig, a researcher with the International Crisis Group and former Canadian diplomat, was arrested last December in China, a move many consider is retaliatory after the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou CRISISGROUP/Julie David

Two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, were arrested just nine days after Meng was detained. Another Canadian, who had been imprisoned for 15 years on drugs charges, has now been sentenced to death.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not moved on their cases, as the justice department said on Friday that “Canada is a country governed by rule of law.”

However, he sacked his ambassador to China after claiming that Meng has a “strong” case against extradition.

There are 13 charges in the US against Meng, Huawei and two affiliates of the company. The two affiliates have also been charged with industrial espionage, accused of stealing from T-Mobile, a US telecoms company.

Prosecutors accuse Meng and Huawei of being in collusion with subsidiaries between 2007 and 2017 to hide their business with Iran, in violation of US and UN sanctions against Iran.

They accuse Meng of lying to US authorities and obstructing their investigation. She is also charged with lying to bankers about the relationship between Huawei and Skycom, a Huawei affiliate in Iran.

According to Washington, the actions of the accused were against the law because business with Iran involved US dollar transactions that went through US banks.