Canada judge adjourns Huawei exec's extradition hearing to August
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Vancouver (AFP) –
A Canadian judge on Wednesday adjourned Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou's extradition hearing until August, giving her team time to review newly obtained documents from investment bank HSBC they say are key to her defense.
The delay requested by Meng upends the scheduled resumption on Monday of the British Columbia Supreme Court proceedings, which were to last three weeks and be the final leg of her two-and-a-half-year legal fight to forestall being sent to the United States to face charges of bank fraud.
"This application has been granted," Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes told the court. "The remainder of the proceedings... will be rescheduled to begin on or around August 3, 2021."
She added that her reasons for the ruling would be released in writing next week.
Meng, the daughter of the company's founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, is accused by US prosecutors of misrepresenting to HSBC links between Huawei and a company that sold telecoms equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions.
She has denied hiding Huawei's relationship with Skycom, a former subsidiary, from HSBC.
Earlier this month Huawei said it had reached an agreement with HSBC in Hong Kong to secure the documents. The company had previously failed to get the documents from a court in the UK, where HSBC is headquartered.
According to the original Huawei summons, seen by AFP, Meng was seeking HSBC bank documents on compliance, sanctions and risk evaluation, as well as records linked to a PowerPoint presentation she made to HSBC executives at a Hong Kong tea house in a bid to secure loans.
- 'Unreasonable request' -
Wednesday's British Columbia Supreme Court decision is a small but key victory for Meng.
The delay, however, will come as little relief to the families of two Canadians jailed in China for what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said are "trumped-up" espionage charges.
The pair, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, were detained nine days after Meng's December 2018 arrest during a Vancouver stopover, in apparent retaliation.
Their detention and Meng's extradition battle has plunged Canada-China relations into a deep freeze.
On Monday, Meng's lawyers petitioned the court for an adjournment to provide Meng the opportunity to review the HSBC documents for possible "relevant evidence" in her extradition case.
Lawyers for the Canadian government, acting on behalf of the United States, opposed the request, saying it was an effort to inappropriately stretch out the case, and that her arguments belong only before a US trial judge.
"They are requesting this court be turned into a trial court," government lawyer Robert Frater shot back. "This is an unreasonable request because it is not based on anything but unsubstantiated, redacted allegations."
Meng remains under night-time house arrest in her Vancouver mansion, supervised by guards at all times, and required to wear a wireless tracking device.
The case was supposed to have wrapped up May 14, barring any appeals, but the adjournment means it will not finish until at least the end of August.
"Any additional applications arising from the documents Ms. Meng will be receiving from HSBC will need to have been made and determined before (August)," Holmes also ruled.
© 2021 AFP