VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Canada’s Department of Justice on Friday authorized an extradition hearing for a top executive of Huawei, the Chinese electronics giant, who is wanted on fraud charges in the United States.
The case involving the executive, Meng Wanzhou, who is the chief financial officer and daughter of Huawei’s founder, has entangled Canada in a bitter dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
On Dec. 1 Canadian police officers arrested Ms. Meng at the request of the United States, infuriating China. In January, the United States unveiled an indictment against Ms. Meng and Huawei, outlining what it said were the company’s efforts stretching over many years to steal trade secrets, obstruct a criminal investigation and evade American economic sanctions on Iran.
Ms. Meng’s detention has created a rift in Chinese-Canadian relations. China detained several Canadians and sentenced a Canadian drug smuggler to death in what many in Canada viewed as retaliation.
In a statement, Justice Department officials “ issued an authority to proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Ms. Meng Wanzhou.”
去年上海某消费类电子产品展销会上的华为标识。 Aly Song/Reuters
The department said that the decision followed its review of evidence in the case, and that it had been satisfied there was sufficient evidence to proceed.
In its statement, the department stressed that the extradition hearing, which will begin at British Columbia’s Supreme Court on March 6, “is not a trial, nor does it render a verdict of guilt or innocence.”
Rather, legal experts said, the court’s role in such cases is circumscribed, and includes determining whether the fraud accusations against Ms. Meng by the United States constitute a crime in Canada.
“The conduct for which extradition is sought must also be considered criminal in both the United States of America and in Canada,” the department said.
David Martin, Ms. Meng’s lawyer, said on Friday that he was disappointed by the decision, calling the charges politically motivated.
孟晚舟的律师戴维·马丁(David Martin)周五表示,他对这一决定感到失望,称指控出于政治动机。
私人保安公司人员站在华为首席财务官孟晚舟位于不列颠哥伦比亚省温哥华市的住宅前。 Ben Nelms/Reuters
“Our client maintains that she is innocent of any wrongdoing and that the U.S. prosecution and extradition constitutes an abuse of the processes of law,” Mr. Martin said in a statement.
His statement also referred to “the political nature of the U.S. charges” and to President Trump’s stated willingness to intercede in the case if it would help secure a trade deal between the United States and China.
Also, apparently alluding to the fact that violating United States sanctions on Iran is not a crime under Canadian law, Mr. Martin expressed concern that the “conduct alleged to be an offense in the U.S. would not be an offense in Canada.”
But legal experts said the United States has cast the company’s effort to circumvent the sanctions as a fraud against banks, which is an offense under Canadian law.
While court proceedings are underway, Ms. Meng will remain on bail, in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she and her husband own two homes. She must wear a GPS tracking device around her ankle.
在华为的首席财务官孟晚舟的保释听证会于不列颠哥伦比亚省温哥华市举行之前,媒体站在最高法庭外。美国已要求将其进行引渡。 Ben Nelms/Bloomberg
Assuming an extradition request clears the court, the matter would be referred to the country’s recently appointed justice minister, David Lametti, a former law professor at McGill University in Montreal who specialized in intellectual property.
假定引渡请求在法庭得以通过,案件将提交给加拿大新近任命的司法部长戴维·拉梅蒂(David Lametti)。他此前是蒙特利尔麦吉尔大学(McGill University)法律学教授,专门研究知识产权。
Huawei has a notable presence in Canada, including research centers in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, and Waterloo, Ontario. It employs about 1,100 people in the country.
As Huawei fights the extradition case, it has been undertaking a major public relations campaign.
This week it published full-page advertisements in several newspapers in the United States, inviting journalists to visit its centers and interview employees under the title: “Don’t believe everything you hear. Come and See Us.”
The company has also been trying to burnish its image in Canada where, among other things, it sponsors Hockey Night in Canada, a weekly ritual for many Canadians.
The Canadian government is under pressure from the United States government to ban Huawei equipment from coming improvements to Canada’s wireless networks. American security agencies have expressed concern that Huawei gear can be turned into spy equipment for China, although they have offered no proof publicly to support those claims.
With Ms. Meng’s extradition still pending, two Huawei subsidiaries pleaded not guilty on Thursday to fraud, trade secrets conspiracy and other charges in Seattle. A trial date was set for March 2020.
Both the Seattle case and the extradition case involve charges by American officials that the company stole part of a smartphone testing robot known as Tappy from a T-Mobile lab in Bellevue, Wash., sometime before 2014.