B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou's request to delay extradition hearings

·3 min read

VANCOUVER — A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has granted Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou's request to delay the final leg in her extradition hearings, days before they were set to begin.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said Wednesday she will deliver reasons for her decision in writing in the next week or so and a date to resume proceedings will be determined April 28.

The hearings were scheduled to begin Monday, but Meng's lawyers said they needed more time to review documents related to the case obtained through a Hong Kong court.

They asked Holmes to adjourn proceedings until Aug. 3, a delay they argued would also allow time for the third wave of COVID-19 infections to subside.

Lawyer Richard Peck has said he believes the new documents will contain evidence supporting their argument that the United States misled Canadian officials in describing the allegations against Meng.

The legal team was set to launch that argument Monday in support of a stay of proceedings before moving into arguments for the extradition hearing, the final step in the case.

“What we request is a reasonable time in which to assess the documents and determine their likely admissibility,” Peck said.

Lawyers for Canada's attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the high-profile case, especially given the public interest.

There's no basis to believe the documents will be relevant, they argued, while accusing Meng's team of trying to turn the extradition hearing into a trial.

After 2 1/2 years of legal proceedings, “and mere days from reaching the finish line, the applicant asks this court to take a several month pause. Her request should be denied,” the Crown said in a written response.

Meng was arrested at Vancouver's airport in 2018 at the request of the United States to face fraud charges related to America's sanctions against Iran.

Both she and Huawei deny the allegations.

The arrest fractured Canada-China relations and the subsequent detention in China of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, is widely seen as retaliation.

Meng is accused of lying to HSBC about Huawei's control of subsidiary Skycom during a presentation in 2013, putting the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

While Meng's Canadian lawyers have not yet seen most of the documents from HSBC and their contents are unclear, Peck said it's believed they will shed light on what the bank knew about the relationship between the companies and how much it relied on Meng's 2013 presentation.

A teleconference next week with both legal teams will determine a new date for the hearing, which Holmes said should be on or around Aug. 3.

Any new applications arising from the documents should be made before then, she said.

Meng's team has said they anticipate applying to admit new evidence in the extradition case after reviewing the documents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2021.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press