Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers say that US prosecutors acted in “bad faith” and abused the Canadian justice system when they went after Huawei’s chief financial officer, in closing arguments of the extradition process that the telecommunications executive closely followed.
In Vancouver court on Wednesday, Meng’s legal team argued that US prosecutors misled the Canadian justice system in their legal summary of the allegations against Meng. His team says this abuse of process forces the judge overseeing the case to dismiss the extradition request against Meng and release her.
The long-term argument is part of a strategy to free the telecommunications executive, whose arrest has been at the center of an ongoing dispute between the United States and China, with Canada caught in the middle.
US prosecutors allege that Meng misled HSBC bankers about Huawei’s relationship with SkyCom, putting HSBC at risk of violating US sanctions against Iran. Both she and Huawei have denied the charges. She was detained by Canadian officials at Vancouver’s main airport in December 2018.
Meng’s lawyers have previously claimed his rights were violated by comments made by then-President Donald Trump, collusion between the two countries to share protected information, and a lack of international jurisdiction.
To succeed in their latest strategy, Meng’s lawyers must convince a British Columbia judge that US prosecutors misled the Canadian justice system to the extent that it “shocks the conscience” of the country, legal evidence derived from a famous extradition case of 1987.
But his team doesn’t have history on his side. According to data From the Canadian government, of the 798 requests made since 2008, only eight have been granted.
“This is not a trial. This is an extradition procedure under a treaty that is very much geared towards transferring the accused, ”said Michael Byers, professor of political science at the University of British Columbia. “The presumption is that the extradition will go ahead and questions of evidence and law will be left to trial in the United States.”
Wednesday’s legal salvo marks the defense’s second recent attempt to unravel the case against its client.
Last month, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes ruled against allowing new evidence in the case, saying the email strings and spreadsheets unearthed by the defense did not “expressly” support Meng’s claim of that the US summary of the accusations against him was “manifestly unreliable”.
The decision was a great disappointment to Meng’s team, who hoped that the inclusion of new evidence would be a “fatal blow” against the US claims and secure his release.
Byers likened Meng’s legal tactic to “throwing a bunch of spaghetti in the fridge” in the form of arguments designed to delay the process as long as possible.
“I don’t think most of these arguments are taken seriously by the lawyers who make them,” he said. “They seem like a strategy to burn the judge in a lot of papers and proceedings.”
The abuse of process arguments are expected to last for nearly a month, with Holmes likely to issue a decision in the fall.
Even if Meng fails to convince the judge that the Americans acted incorrectly, it could still be years before the appeals process is completely exhausted.
Meanwhile, there have been rumors of a possible agreement between the United States and China that could secure Meng’s release. While the Americans could choose to withdraw the extradition request entirely, Byers suggested that the White House could also propose a deferred prosecution agreement, allowing the United States to save face and get Huawei to admit guilt.
“Once there is a judge’s decision, there may be an opportunity for a political move by the United States,” Byers said. “Obviously everyone is interested in seeing how [Holmes] rules about this. “
The highly political nature of his case has chilled relations between Canada and China. The arrest of two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, both accused of espionage, is seen as retribution for Canada’s role in Meng’s extradition.
“It is obvious that the two Michaels were arrested on bogus national security charges days after we fulfilled our extradition treaty responsibilities towards our ally, the United States,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in March.
The two have been incarcerated in China for almost 970 days. Meng, however, was granted bail early in the process and lives in a multi-million dollar mansion in Vancouver.
But comments from the Canadian government could make it difficult for the two men to be released.
“The biggest mistake the Canadian government made was explicitly linking the arrest of the two Michaels to the extradition process involving Meng. They created a situation where the Chinese cannot free the two Michaels now without losing reputation, “Byers said. “The fate of the two Michaels is now inextricably linked to that of Meng Wanzhou.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism