Meng Wanzhou escorted
© Reuters/Jennifer Gauthier
Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves a court hearing
Vancouver, BC Canada • August 4, 2021
Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou say American prosecutors acted in "bad faith" and abused the Canadian justice system when they pursued the Huawei chief financial officer, in final arguments of the telecoms executive's closely watched extradition proceedings.

In a Vancouver courtroom on Wednesday, Meng's legal team argued that American prosecutors misled the Canadian justice system in their legal summary of the allegations against Meng. Her team says this abuse of process obliges the judge overseeing the case to toss out the extradition request against Meng and set her free.

The long-shot argument is part of a strategy to free the telecoms executive, whose detention has been at the centre of an ongoing feud between the United States and China - with Canada caught in the middle.

American prosecutors allege that Meng misled bankers at HSBC about Huawei's relationship with SkyCom, putting HSBC at risk of violating American sanctions against Iran. Both she and Huawei have denied the charges. She was detained by Canadian officials at Vancouver's main airport December 2018.

Meng's lawyers have previously claimed her rights were breached by comments made by then president Donald Trump, collusion between the two countries to share protected information, and a lack of international jurisdiction.

To be successful in their latest strategy, Meng's lawyers must convince a British Columbia judge that American prosecutors misled the Canadian justice system to the extent that it "shocks the conscience" of the country - a legal test stemming from a famous 1987 extradition case.

But her team does not have history on its side. According to data from the Canadian government, of the 798 requests made since 2008, only eight have been granted.

Michael Byers, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia, said:
"This is not a trial. This is an extradition procedure under a treaty that is very much geared towards transferring the accused. The presumption is that the extradition will move forward and questions over evidence and law will be left to the trial in the United States."
Wednesday's legal salvo marks the second recent attempt by the defence to unspool the case against their client.

Last month, associate chief justice Heather Holmes ruled against allowing new evidence in the case, saying the email chains and spreadsheets unearthed by the defence did not "expressly" support Meng's claim that the US summary of allegations against her were "manifestly unreliable".

The decision was a major disappointment to Meng's team, which had hoped the the inclusion of new evidence would prove to be a 'fatal blow' against the US claims and would secure her release. Byers likened Meng's legal gambit to "throwing a whole lot of spaghetti at the fridge" in the form of arguments designed to delay the process for as long as possible. He said:
"I don't see most of these arguments being taken seriously by the lawyers making them. They seem like a strategy of burning the judge in a whole lot of paper and procedure."
The abuse-of-process arguments are expected to last nearly a month, with a decision likely rendered by Holmes in the fall. Even if Meng is unsuccessful in convincing the judge that the Americans acted improperly, it could still be years before the appeals process is fully exhausted.

Meanwhile, there have been whispers of a potential deal between the United States and China that could secure Meng's release. While the Americans might opt to fully withdraw the extradition request, Byers suggested the White House might also propose a deferred prosecution agreement, thus allowing the United States to save face while getting Huawei to admit culpability.