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Canadian judge weighing whether to extradite Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou to United States

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A Canadian federal judge declined to make an immediate ruling on whether Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s extradition process should move forward, after a four-day hearing on the case in a Vancouver court wrapped up Thursday.

The United States has requested Meng’s extradition from Canada so she can stand trial on charges of bank fraud and sanctions violations. This week’s hearing in Vancouver covered a crucial element of the extradition process called “double criminality” — in order to extradite someone from Canada, the conduct they will be tried for in the destination country must also be a crime under Canadian law.

If the judge finds the double criminality standard is met, the extradition process will continue. If not, Meng could be released and the extradition case dropped.

The judge declined to say when she plans to announce a decision, though it will likely come before the next hearing in the case, which is scheduled for late April.

A spokesperson for Huawei said that if the judge finds against Meng, her defense team plans to appeal the decision. The Canada Attorney General’s office, which is acting as the prosecution in the case, declined to say whether it would appeal if the judge finds in favor of Meng.

“We cannot speculate on the outcome of the double criminality motion,” a spokesperson for the attorney general said. “We must allow this process to take its course before determining or speculating on the legal options that may or may not be considered.”

Meng was arrested in Vancouver last year, and the case has implications that go beyond her extradition, and could affect relations between Canada, China and the United States. In addition to her executive role, Meng is also the daughter of Huawei’s CEO, Ren Zhengfei.

The United States has alleged that Meng lied to bank HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with its Iran-based affiliate Skycom in order to receive funding that violated US economic sanctions against Iran.

During this week’s hearing, prosecutors argued that those allegations would amount to a Canadian fraud charge, and that Meng should therefore be committed for extradition.

“Lying to a bank in order to get financial services that creates a risk of economic prejudice is fraud,” Robert Frater, a lawyer for the attorney general, said Wednesday, adding that the actions put HSBC at risk of both US penalties for sanctions violations and reputational damage.

The defense, however, argued that the United States alleges a violation of sanctions that do not exist in Canada, and thus should not be enforced by Canada. They say Meng’s alleged misrepresentation, had it occurred in Canada, would not have put the bank at any risk of loss — a key element of any Canadian fraud charge — because Canada has rejected such sanctions.

The hearing did not address the truthfulness of the allegations; rather, both sides argued on the assumption that they are true for the sake of determining if the double criminality standard is met. Huawei and Meng have denied the charges.

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