Husband, children of Huawei's Meng Wanzhou granted permission to travel to Canada

Immigration officials have given family members of detained Huawei telecom executive Meng Wanzhou permission to travel to Canada, CBC News has confirmed.

Global Affairs Canada says Canada has secured more consular and family access for Kovrig and Spavor

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, leaves B.C. Supreme Court with her husband Liu Xiaozong during a break from a hearing in Vancouver on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Immigration officials have given family members of detained Huawei telecom executive Meng Wanzhou permission to travel to Canada, CBC News has confirmed.

"As in all cases, this decision was made in accordance with Canadian laws and in strict compliance with the current travel [Orders in Council]," said a statement from Global Affairs Canada.

In court yesterday it was revealed that Meng's husband, Liu Xiaozong, and her two children were granted permission to come to Canada by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada officials. Liu came to Canada in October and in December was followed by the couple's children. 

Global Affairs said that Meng's family members were granted permission to come here through a process that allows family members of foreign nationals to visit Canada temporarily.

The statement from Global Affairs said the minister was aware of the exemption that was granted.

Meng, chief financial officer for Huawei Technologies Co., was detained in December 2018 while she was changing planes in Vancouver. She was arrested on a U.S. extradition request over allegations she lied to a Hong Kong banker in August 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

She has been released on bail and consistently denies the charges against her.

Under her bail conditions, Meng is required to wear a GPS ankle monitoring bracelet and is confined to her home from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day. She is allowed to travel around the Lower Mainland with security guards during the day; she has to pay for the security herself.

Shortly after Meng's arrest, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained in China, where they remain in detention facing charges of spying for Canada.

'Increased access' granted

Global Affairs said that the detention of the two Canadians is "unacceptable" and that while the federal government is continuing to push for their immediate release, it has made some progress toward improving the conditions of their imprisonment.

"Over the past months, Canada has obtained agreements involving increased family and consular access for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor," the statement said.

A source speaking on background told CBC News that the "increased access" refers to a resumption of consular visits and exchange of family letters that Kovrig and Spavor were granted prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. From January to October of last year, family and Canadian officials had no access to the two men. 

Meng, meanwhile, launched a bid in a B.C. court this week to loosen her bail restrictions. Earlier this week, the 48-year-old — who has survived thyroid cancer and has hypertension — claimed the changing roster of guards who accompany her everywhere during daylight hours is placing her at heightened risk of catching COVID-19.

Conservative MP Raquel Dancho said the decision to grant Meng's family a pass to enter Canada is an insult to the families of Kovrig and Spavor.

"The Liberals rolled out the red carpet and granted a special travel exemption for the Huawei CFO's family to reunite in time for the holidays. This is an insult to the millions of Canadians who were told by this government not to visit loved ones," she said. 

Rights violations

In court this week, Liu Xiaozong claimed the constant presence of guards is also preventing his family from spending quality time together without attracting the attention of strangers anxious to photograph the woman at the centre of a high-profile international court case.

The extradition proceeding itself is expected to get underway at the beginning of March, and to continue in various stages until the end of April.

The first part of the proceedings will involve a defence bid to have the case tossed because of alleged violations of Meng's rights. 

Her lawyers claim she is being used as a political pawn by U.S. President Donald Trump and they also say the Canada Border Services Agency and RCMP conspired with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation at the time of her arrest to deny her access to a lawyer.

The defence claims that the U.S. deliberately misled Canada about the strength of the case against Meng and is reaching beyond its jurisdiction to punish her.

The final part of the proceedings will be a test of the strength of the extradition request itself.

With files from the CBC's Jason Proctor

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