The extradition hearing of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou came to an end in Vancouver on Wednesday. The presiding judge is expected to issue a verdict on October 21.
Meng was arrested in December 2018 in Vancouver, as the US government alleged that a US subsidiary of Huawei had breached sanctions to sell prohibited US goods and technology to Iran. The US charged Meng, who is CFO of Huawei, with bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit both bank fraud and wire fraud, and requested that Canada extradite her to US soil.
In the final stage of the extradition hearing, the US said Meng concealed the relationship between Huawei and Skycom, a business entity registered in Hong Kong that conducts business in Iran. The US said Skycom is an “unofficial subsidiary” of Huawei rather than merely a local partner. It also said that Meng deliberately misled HSBC representatives in Hong Kong and put the bank at risk of violating sanctions against Iran.
Meng and her lawyers have rejected all the allegations. If the court in Vancouver rules that Meng should be extradited to the US, she could face a prison sentence of more than 30 years if she is found guilty of charges in the US.
Huawei issued a statement on Thursday saying that it believes Meng is innocent and the company has faith in the Canadian judicial system. While the long-lasting judicial procedure violated her rights, the company said, the only remedy is to halt the extradition. The statement was the most searched item on Baidu later that day.
Discussion about Meng’s extradition took off on social media and became entangled with nationalistic rhetoric. People’s Daily, the most widely read newspaper in China, said on Weibo that the case amounts to persecution of Chinese citizens. “It’s blatant proof that the US is suppressing Chinese companies and the development of our technology,” the post reads.
On Thursday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying urged the Canadian government to “carefully listen to the call for justice” and “correct its mistakes” so that Meng can return to China as soon as possible.
Before that, on Wednesday, state-run tabloid Global Times circulated an online petition requesting the Canadian government to immediately and unconditionally release Meng. More than 11 million people have signed the document as of Friday morning.