Politics

Meng Wanzhou believed to have left Canada after B.C. court drops extradition case

A plane believed to be carrying Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou took off from the Vancouver airport on Friday, marking a new stage in a legal saga that ensnared Canada — and two of its citizens — in a dispute between the U.S. and Chinese governments.

Huawei executive was arrested in Vancouver in 2018 on a U.S. extradition request

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou leaves the B.C. Supreme Court after her extradition charges were dropped in Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A plane believed to be carrying Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou took off from the Vancouver airport on Friday, marking a new stage in a legal saga that ensnared Canada — and two of its citizens — in a dispute between the U.S. and Chinese governments.

A B.C. court decided on Friday that the extradition case against Meng would be dropped after the Huawei chief financial officer reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government.

Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the two Canadian citizens who were detained in China just days after Meng's arrest in Vancouver, are now on their way back to Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Friday evening.

Meng's deal with U.S. prosecutors resolved the charges against the Huawei executive.

The agreement set in motion Meng's departure from Canada after she had spent nearly three years under house arrest. The plane that departed Vancouver is an Air China charter destined for Shenzhen, the southern Chinese city where Huawei has its headquarters.

As part of her arrangement with U.S. prosecutors, Meng pleaded not guilty in a court Friday to multiple fraud charges.

WATCH | Huawei CFO pleads not guilty:

Huawei CFO pleads not guilty

1 month ago
5:05
In an earlier post, CBC News reported incorrect information about Meng Wanzhou's plea agreement Friday. In fact, Meng pleaded not guilty as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government. That post has been deleted. 5:05

The Huawei chief financial officer entered the plea during a virtual appearance in a New York courtroom. She was charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud more than two and a half years ago.

David Kessler, an attorney with the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, told the court the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) will last four years — from the time of her arrest on Dec. 1, 2018, to Dec. 1, 2022.

Kessler said that if Meng complies with her obligations, the U.S. will move to dismiss the charges against her at the end of the deferral period. If she doesn't, she can still be prosecuted.

WATCH | Meng Wanzhou speaks following her B.C. court apperance

Huawei chief financial officer makes a statement after leaving the B.C. Supreme Court

1 month ago
3:32
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou spoke to reporters outside a courthouse in Vancouver after extradition proceedings against her were dropped. Meng had earlier appeared by video in a U.S. court and pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government. 3:32

The agreed statement of facts from Friday's U.S. court appearance said that Meng told a global financial institution that a company operating in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions was a "local partner" of Huawei when in fact it was a subsidiary of Huawei.

"In entering into the deferred prosecution agreement, Meng has taken responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution," Acting U.S. Attorney Nicole Boeckmann said in a statement.

'Sorry for the inconvenience caused,' Meng says

Later Friday afternoon, B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes officially ended the Canadian proceedings, signing an order to discharge the U.S. extradition request and vacate Meng's bail conditions.

She addressed Meng directly before ending a hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes.

"You have been cooperative and courteous throughout the proceedings and the court appreciates and thanks you for that," Holmes said.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou reads a statement outside the B.C. Supreme Court following the conclusion of her extradition hearing. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Outside the court, Meng read from prepared remarks while flanked by her legal team. She thanked Holmes for her "fairness" during the proceedings.

"I also appreciate the court for their professionalism and the Canadian government for upholding the rule of law," Meng said.

"I'm also grateful to the Canadian people and media friends for your tolerance. Sorry for the inconvenience caused."

'Meng Wanzhou is free to leave Canada'

In a media statement issued this evening, the federal Department of Justice confirmed that "Meng Wanzhou is free to leave Canada."

"Canada is a rule of law country," says the statement. "Meng Wanzhou was afforded a fair process before the courts in accordance with Canadian law. This speaks to the independence of Canada's judicial system."

U.S. prosecutors also credited the Canadian justice system for its commitment to the legal process.

"We are enormously grateful to Canada's Department of Justice for its dedicated work on this extradition and for its steadfast adherence to the rule of law," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko.

Corrections

  • In a previous version of this story, CBC News reported Meng Wanzhou was expected to plead guilty and pay a fine as part of today's proceedings, citing sources. In fact, Meng pleaded not guilty as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government, which did not make reference to fines.
    Sep 24, 2021 3:00 PM ET

With files from Catharine Tunney, Chris Hall, Bethany Lindsay and Nick Boisvert

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now