Feds green-light formal extradition process for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou

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Canada has begun the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to the United States - the latest move in a case that has roiled relations between the North American neighbours and China.

An appearance has been scheduled at the B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday morning to confirm the authority to proceed has been issued, and to set a date for the hearing itself.

"The department is satisfied that. there is sufficient evidence to be put before an extradition judge for decision".

Following threats from Beijing that Ottawa would face consequences should it not release Meng, Canada's envoy to China said that the Chinese defendant had a strong case to challenge extradition, citing comments from US President Donald Trump that he would drop the case in exchange for a trade deal with China.

U.S. authorities filed nearly two dozen charges against Huawei, the world's second largest smartphone maker, and Ms Meng in January, along with a formal request for her extradition.

Under the Canada-U.S. extradition treaty, the judge has to determine whether Meng's crime alleged by the U.S. would also constitute a crime in Canada - if so, she will be handed over to face trial.

The indictment accuses Huawei and Meng of misrepresenting their ownership of a Hong Kong-based subsidiary between 2007 and 2017 to circumvent US sanctions against Iran.

At a regular daily news briefing in Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry took Canada to task over possible double standards, by commenting on allegations of political interference in the SNC-Lavalin case. Several Canadians have been detained overseas, and a B.C. man convicted of drug charges saw his prison sentence changed to death during a one-day retrial.

The embassy also said that Canada should refuse the extradition request and immediately release Meng.

FILE PHOTO: Meng Wanzhou, Executive Board Director of the Chinese technology giant Huawei, attends a session of the VTB Capital Investment Forum "Russia Calling!" in Moscow, Russia October 2, 2014. China had demanded that the USA drop its request.

The Chinese government on Saturday criticized the decision as a "serious violation" of Meng's rights and called on Washington to withdraw its extradition request.

A decision to extradite ultimately must be approved by Canada's justice minister.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has insisted on a strict hands-off approach to the issue, with the Canadian Department of Justice saying on Friday that "Canada is a country governed by the rule of law".

The U.S. role adds another layer of complexity.

Lu described the episode as "a severe political incident". Since then, she's also been accused of copying T-Mobile's phone testing technology for Huawei.

Ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were both detained in China in mid-December on accusations of harming national security.

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