VANCOUVER – Meng Wanzhou walked out of a B.C. Supreme Court free from a 34-month legal saga after a judge agreed to a discharge order that withdrew a U.S. extradition request against her.
The Huawei executive emerged from the court without her ankle bracelet and read a statement thanking the judge, the Crown lawyers and the Canadian people for their tolerance, while apologizing for the inconvenience.
“Over the past three years, my life has been turned upside down … as a mother, a wife, and a company executive,” she said outside court on Friday. “But I believe every cloud has a silver lining.”
The Department of Justice has also confirmed she is “free to leave Canada,” but it’s unclear how soon Meng will go home.
Her freedom comes as Meng pleaded not guilty to all charges in a New York courtroom where the judge signed off on a deferred prosecution agreement. Meng, who appeared via video link for that appearance, answered Judge Ann Donnelly’s questions with simple yes and no answers, all with the help of a court-appointed translator.
Assistant U.S. attorney David Kessler told court that the agreement would allow for the charges against Meng to be dismissed after Dec. 1, 2022 — four years from the date of her arrest — provided that she “complies with all her obligations” under the terms of the deal.
Meng had been out on bail during the extradition proceedings, living with an ankle monitor in her Vancouver home under court-ordered conditions.
Lawyer Richard Peck appearing on behalf of Meng defence team says this “discourse” has been “civil”.
Speaking now, Justice Holmes thanks all lawyers involved for participation, as well as translators and Ms. Meng who responds, “Thank you.”
Hearing now adjourned. @NEWS1130
— Marcella Bernardo (@MBernardoNews) September 24, 2021
The U.S. had accused her of bank and wire fraud, alleging she misrepresented the ownership of the company Skycom in order to get around American sanctions against Iran.
Prosecutors had been seeking Meng’s extradition on four charges — wire fraud, bank fraud, and one count each of conspiring to commit both =– in connection with allegations the company was sidestepping U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Meng was arrested by the RCMP at Vancouver International Airport at the request of the U.S. back in 2018 and she’s been fighting extradition ever since. She has remained under strict conditions of her bail agreement from her home in Vancouver.
Days after she was taken into custody, Chinese authorities arrested Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on espionage charges in apparent retaliation.
The results of Friday’s court developments could mean freedom for the two men, according to an immigration lawyer.
However, immigration lawyer Richard Kurland hopes the federal government will come up with the cash to pay for counselling sessions for Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig considering they’ve been behind bars in China for more than one-thousand days.
“The government of Canada would have an obligation to take care of the post-traumatic stress caused by the multi-year detention of our two Michaels. The family may not have the resources to pay for it, they paid the price for Canada and now Canada should pay the price for their post-traumatic stress rehabilitation,” Kurland said.