B.C. judge agrees to 3-month delay in Meng Wanzhou extradition case at defence request
Defence requested adjournment to review documents released by Hong Kong court
The B.C. Supreme Court judge overseeing Meng Wanzhou's extradition proceedings has agreed to delay final arguments in the case for three months while the Huawei executive's lawyers review documents they hope will help them toss the case.
Meng's lawyers asked Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes to give them until the beginning of August to review newly released banking documents they believe could be crucial to fighting a U.S. request to extradite their client to New York.
Holmes did not give a reason for agreeing to the adjournment, but said she would release her reasons in writing later.
Meng, who is Huawei's chief financial officer, is charged with fraud and conspiracy in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC executive in Hong Kong about her company's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.
Prosecutors claim HSBC relied on Meng's alleged misrepresentations to conclude that it was safe to handle U.S. dollar-based financial transactions for Huawei — putting them at risk of loss and prosecution.
Defence says time needed to review documents
Meng's next court appearance to plan the months ahead will take place on Wednesday. The judge said she wanted to make it "plain" that the final three weeks of arguments in the case must take place at the beginning of August.
Holmes said any other applications related to the new documents would need to take place before then.
Meng was arrested at Vancouver's airport on Dec. 1, 2018, after arriving on a flight from Hong Kong en route to a stop in Mexico City and a conference in Argentina.
The extradition proceedings were slated to resume April 26 with defence claims the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of its case by omitting crucial facts about HSBC's knowledge of the risk involved in dealing with the Chinese telecommunications giant.
The request for an adjournment followed a Hong Kong high court ruling last week that will see HSBC provide thousands of pages of documents to Huawei.
The defence told Holmes on Monday that Meng's New York lawyers have already flagged serious concerns about information that undermines the fraud allegations.
They claimed it would only be fair to let them review the reams of documents expected to arrive from Hong Kong in the coming weeks to determine whether there's evidence the U.S. is trying to mislead the court.
'Urgent need' to adhere to schedule: Crown
The Crown was opposed to any further delay in a process that prosecutors say is supposed to be speedy.
They say the defence is trying to turn the extradition case into a trial that should properly take place in New York.
"There is an urgent need to adhere to the schedule," prosecutors said in documents submitted as part of the request to adjourn the case.
"The proceedings have attracted enormous public interest and this court has invested considerable resources in ensuring that the case progress as expeditiously as possible."
Disclosure of this level not normally available
Lawyers for Canada's attorney general have accused Meng's lawyers of going on a globe-trotting fishing expedition to try to obtain a level of disclosure in the case not normally available to defendants in extradition proceedings.
A judge in the U.K. previously rejected a bid by Meng's legal team to get the kind of documents they are now about to receive through the Hong Kong courts.
He pointed out that Meng's U.S. lawyers received the same information through the pretrial criminal legal process in that country, but are prohibited by the judge in the U.S. case from sharing it with her Canadian legal team.
The proceedings were originally scheduled to wrap up by the middle of May, with a final decision on extradition to come in the following months.
Meng has denied the charges against her.