Toronto | Canada said it will allow a U.S. extradition request for an executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei to face charges over possible dealings with Iran to proceed.
The Department of Justice said Friday officials made the decision after a diligent review of the case against Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Ltd., the biggest global maker of network equipment for phone and internet companies. A department statement stressed that Canada was following its laws.
Meng’s Dec 1 arrest at the Vancouver airport set off a diplomatic furor and strained Canadian relations with China. Beijing has accused Washington of a politically motivated attempt to hurt a potential competitor to U.S. technology vendors.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, is accused of lying to banks about the company’s dealings with Iran in violation of U.S. trade sanctions. She is free on bail in Vancouver and is due in court on Wednesday when a date for an extradition hearing will be set.
The decision to proceed is a formality and allows a judge to hear arguments on whether to grant the U.S. request.
A decision to extradite ultimately must be approved by Canada’s justice minister.
“There is sufficient evidence to be put before an extradition judge for decision,” the statement said.
The Chinese government on Saturday criticized the decision as a “serious violation” of Meng’s rights and called on Washington to withdraw its extradition request.
“The U.S. and Canada have abused their bilateral extradition agreement,” said a Foreign Ministry statement.
China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng.
A Chinese court also sentenced a Canadian to death in a sudden retrial, overturning a 15-year prison term handed down earlier. Kovrig and Spavor haven’t had access to a lawyer since being arrested.
Meng is living in one of two Vancouver mansions she owns.
“We are disappointed that the Minister of Justice has decided to issue an Authority to Proceed in the face of the political nature of the U.S. charges and where the President of the United States has repeatedly stated that he would interfere in Ms. Meng’s case if he thought it would assist the U.S negotiations with China over a trade deal,” said her lawyer, David Martin, in a statement.
Martin said the charges against Meng are not crimes in Canada and that his client maintains her innocence.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa criticized the case in a statement as “political persecution against a Chinese high-tech enterprise.” Huawei is a focus of U.S. security concerns.
Washington has pressured other countries to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.