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Huawei's Meng Wanzhou loses ruling on double criminality

British Columbia supreme court Justice Heather Holmes released her verdict today on the case of Huawei executive and daughter of its founder, Meng Wanzhou.
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY

British Columbia supreme court Justice Heather Holmes released her verdict today on the case of Huawei executive and daughter of its founder, Meng Wanzhou. In the case of the United States v. Meng, Meng lost her case to avoid extradition to the US.

At issue was the question of double criminality, and Justice Holmes found that yes, the crimes as charges meet the condition of double criminality.

In the ruling, Justice Holmes wrote:

"Ms. Meng says that the alleged conduct could not have amounted to fraud in Canada because it relates entirely to the effects of US economic sanctions against Iran, and at the relevant time Canada had no such sanctions (just as it has none now).

"The Attorney General counters first, that the elements of the offence of fraud in Canada can be made out, on the allegations, without reference to US sanctions against Iran; and second, that in any event the sanctions may properly give background or context to the alleged conduct and explain why it mattered.

"For the reasons I will give, I find that the allegations depend on the effects of US sanctions.  However, I conclude that those effects may play a part in the determination of whether double criminality is established.  For that reason, Ms. Meng’s application will be dismissed."

This ruling against Meng means that the case will begin the next phase, starting in June, where prosecutors will argue that Canadian officials followed the law during Meng’s arrest. Early fall is when closing arguments are expected to be heard in this case.

In the lead up to this verdict, Chinese media announced that Meng was innocent and would be both released and returned home within 4 days.

Meng was arrested in December 2018 after arriving in Vancouver from China. She was just passing through, on her way to Argentina. More than a year later, she is still in Vancouver. She was taken into custody upon her arrival by Canadian authorities at the request of their allies to the south.

The US intended to implement an extradition order so that Meng could be tried in the US on charges of bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracies to commit those crimes, in relation to violating sanctions against Iran. Companies that wish to do business in the US, as Huawei does, must follow American law. This includes not doing business with those nations against which the US has sanctions. The US alleges that Huawei has used subsidiaries to violate those sanctions, and sold products to Iran that could be used to enhance their military capability.

That extradition order has been at issue during Meng’s ensuing trial. For extradition to be legal, the crimes Meng has been accused of committed in the US would have had to have been classed as crimes in Canada, as well. Terms of extradition require that for Canada to release a prisoner, it can only be for a crime that is not only a crime in the country requesting the extradition but also a violation of Canadian law.

Meng’s attorneys have claimed that the US sanctions against Iran that she is accused of violating were not illegal in Canada at the time of the crime. Canadian prosecutors have "emphasized that fraud is at the heart of the criminal allegations," and that the sanctions are not the primary concern.

Meng's detainment while awaiting an extradition verdict is believed to have prompted Chinese authorities to detain two Canadians in retaliation. While these men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, have spent over 500 days in prison, Meng has been spending her arrest in a veritable mansion. The $12 million Vancouver home has served as her prison, and while her ankle monitor has limited her movements, she has been able to travel within a wide distance of her home, so long as she was back by an 11 p.m. curfew.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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Libby Emmons
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