OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Canadian government, as expected, said on Friday it would allow an extradition hearing to proceed against the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, who was detained in Canada late last year.
Meng Wanzhou, currently under house arrest, will appear in a Vancouver court on March 6 to set the date of the hearing. Meng and Huawei face U.S. charges of conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran.
“Today, department of Justice Canada officials issued an authority to proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Ms. Meng Wanzhou,” the government said in a statement.
“The department is satisfied that … there is sufficient evidence to be put before an extradition judge for decision.”
Legal experts had predicted Ottawa would give the go-ahead, given the close judicial relationship between Canada and the United States.
It could be years though before she is ever sent to the United States, since Canada’s slow-moving justice system allows many decisions to be appealed.
The decision is likely to sour Canada’s already bad relations with China, which is demanding Meng be released.
After her detention, China arrested two Canadians on national security grounds, and a Chinese court later sentenced to death a Canadian man who previously had only been jailed for drug smuggling.
Canadian Justice Minister David Lametti declined to comment.
The Chinese embassy in Ottawa, Huawei and Meng lawyer David Martin were not immediately available for comment.
U.S. President Donald Trump told Reuters in December he would intervene if it served national security interests or helped close a trade deal with China, prompting Ottawa to stress the extradition process should not be politicized. Last week Trump played down the idea of dropping the charges.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Tom Brown