VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A major decision in a case which has been looming over Vancouver — and, indeed, all of Canada — for more than a year is expected today.
On Wednesday morning, a B.C. Supreme Court judge will release a ruling in the extradition case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, which could either see it drag on, or effectively put it to an end.
There are many different parts to these proceedings, but today, the judge is honing in on the issue of double criminality.
The U.S. is accusing Meng of bank fraud, so the question the justice must examine is whether what she is being accused of by the Americans is also a crime here in Canada.
The federal government says yes, while the defence says the charge stems from U.S. sanctions on Iran, which Canada doesn’t have — so no.
If the judge rules in favour of the defence, criminal defence lawyer Gary Botting, a leading authority on extradition law, says there’s nothing to keep the Chinese telecom executive under house arrest in Vancouver, even if the government appeals.
“There’s nothing in the act about retaining her in custody if she is already discharged, there’s nothing to keep her in custody,” he says. “That would be problematic for the attorney general. It would be a public relations disaster if the attorney general were to appeal, because then, we’ve already determined what the judiciary has to say of the case, and they’re saying it’s not criminal in Canada, and therefore she’s not extraditable to the United States.”
If Meng’s defence were to be successful and have the judge rule in her favour, Botting believes it would be “very unwise” for the attorney general to appeal. However, if an appeal were launched, he says Meng would likely already be “long gone,” perhaps already back in China by the time it’s filed.
Whatever the outcome today, former ambassador to China Guy St. Jacques says the damage to China-Canada relations has already been done.
“It’s a very tough time and I don’t expect much progress. In fact, the situation could further deteriorate,” St. Jacques, who served as ambassador from 2012 to 2016, admits.
He predicts the case will continue, which would mean Meng would be back in court again in June, and perhaps in September.
One of the big implications is the fate of two Canadians still in custody in China. The detentions of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have widely been seen as retaliation for Meng’s arrest at Vancouver International Airport in late 2018.
“That will force Beijing to react. As you know they have not made a decision yet on whether to proceed with a formal trial for mister Kovrig and Spavor,” St. Jacques explains. “Because according to their own time schedule, their own law, the Chinese procurator should have made a decision by January 17 on whether to proceed with the trial and I think that they knew that there were hearings in Vancouver back in January so they were waiting to see what the decision.”
They may be freed if the decision goes China’s way, St. Jacques adds.
The judgement is expected at 11:00 a.m. PT. Listen live for the latest updates throughout the day. You can also follow us on Twitter @NEWS1130 or subscribe to breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox.
-With files from Paul James and Vanessa Doban