U.S. Senate passes resolution commending Canada for its actions in Huawei case

The United States Senate has passed a resolution praising the Canadian government for the way it has conducted itself in the case of Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

Meng's defence says her rights were violated during her arrest

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, back right, is accompanied by a private security detail as she leaves her home to attend a court appearance in Vancouver on Wednesday May 8, 2019. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The United States Senate has passed a resolution praising the Canadian government for the way it has conducted itself in the case of Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

The resolution commends "the government of Canada for upholding the rule of law and expressing concern over actions by the government of the People's Republic of China in response to a request from the United States government to the government of Canada for the extradition of a Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. executive."

The resolution is nonbinding and is considered an expression of the Senate's will on the issue.

Canada has face widespread political and economic pressure from China since Meng's arrest in December and has been looking to its international allies for diplomatic assistance.

In February, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland met with U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Jim Risch, a Republican from Idaho, to ask for American help in its ongoing tussle with China over Meng's arrest. Risch ultimately introduced the Senate resolution.

Since Meng's arrest, China has placed a number of trade hurdles in front of Canadian exporters — banning imports from two canola producers, tying up shipments over paperwork and putting unusual obstacles in the way of Canadian soybean and pea exporters.

Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested in China in December after Canadian officials detained Meng in Vancouver on an extradition request from the U.S. She was later granted bail and is now awaiting court proceedings.

In March, China's Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission accused Kovrig of stealing state secrets passed on to him by Spavor.

'Arbitrary detention'

In December, a few months before that accusation was made, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Kovrig and Spavor were being unlawfully detained and should be returned to Canada.

That position was affirmed by the Senate Tuesday in a resolution that expressed concern over China's "apparent arbitrary detention and abusive treatment of Canadian nationals Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in apparent retaliation for the government of Canada's detention of Meng Wanzhou."

One month after Kovrig and Spavor were arrested, China sentenced Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death in a sudden retrial in January. Schellenberg already had been sentenced to a 15-year jail term for drug smuggling. Last month, a Chinese court sentenced another Canadian, Fan Wei, to death for participating in a global methamphetamine operation.

Meng's Charter of Rights defence

The resolution landed as Meng's defence team said it plans to argue that she shouldn't be extradited to the U.S. because she hasn't committed fraud under Canadian laws and her arrest at Vancouver's airport was unlawful.

Benjamin Howes, a spokesman for Huawei Canada, told reporters in Vancouver Wednesday that Meng's legal team will also argue that her rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated during her arrest.

"Ms. Meng intends to apply to the court for a stay of the extradition proceedings. Canadians value the rule of law and the Charter of Rights," he said.

"We have trust in the Canadian legal process and we look forward to seeing Ms. Meng's freedom restored."

According to the federal government's guide to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, "any person in Canada – whether they are a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a newcomer – has the rights and freedoms contained in the Charter."

Seeking more documents

During a hearing Wednesday, Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley, who is representing the Attorney General of Canada, asked Justice Heather Holmes to see that Meng's case proceeds as quickly as possible, proposing a first court date by the end of August.

He said the allegations against Meng centre on a misrepresentation she is alleged to have made to a bank that put the institution's economic interests at risk, adding it's not yet time to make arguments in the case.

The defence said it needs more time to gather documents through freedom of information requests. It also wants audio from Meng's questioning at the time of her arrest, which already has been described as unlawful in a civil suit.

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With files from the Canadian Press