The House

The 'embarrassing' U.S. response to CFO extradition could create future international problems

U.S. President Donald Trump's stated willingness to overthrow the extradition of Huawei's CFO to secure a trade deal undermines international relations, according to a legal expert.
Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou's arrest in B.C. has caused headaches for Canada as China responds. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
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U.S. President Donald Trump's stated willingness to overthrow the extradition of Huawei's CFO to secure a trade deal undermines international relations, according to a legal expert.

Extradition treaties are "time-honoured" agreements, and Canada and the U.S. have an especially "long-standing" extradition arrangement, Mary Fan, a law professor at the University of Washington and a former federal prosecutor, told The House.

Trump recently mused online about intervening in Meng's case. Fan said his actions could have serious blowback.

"This embarrassment may give other nations reason to consider how expeditiously to respond to U.S. requests," she told host Chris Hall.

Meng Wanzhou, an executive with the telecommunications firm Huawei, was arrested in British Columbia because she was wanted in the U.S. for allegedly violating sanctions against Iran in her business dealings.

Security experts have warned Canada about doing business with Huawei, raising concerns about the close relationship between the company and the Chinese government.

She has been released on bail and the U.S. has yet to formally file the paperwork for her extradition.

The U.S. has 60 days from the date of her arrest to file an official request, along with the supporting documents.

Michael Kovrig might not be the only Canadian in trouble in China. Kovrig, an employee of Global Affairs Canada who is on leave to work with an NGO, was detained there on Monday. And now the whereabouts of a second Canadian, who recently reported being questioned by Chinese authorities, are unknown. 5:10

While questions about the extradition linger, Canada is considering whether to join several of its Five Eyes international intelligence partners in banning Huawei from accessing the country's 5G networks.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said no conclusion has been reached on that front, but talks continue with the objective to modernize telecommunications networks while keeping them secure.

The government has yet to decide whether to classify Huawei as a security threat.

Goodale said that decision is "very actively developing," but he is not at liberty to say more at this point.

"You don't want to embed something in your technology that makes you insecure or unsafe," he said.

Meanwhile, Fan said she wonders if the president's Twitter flippancy could cause a breakdown of extradition norms.

When the justice system is mixed up with other things, like trade and politics, it "certainly undermines the trust and reciprocity," she said.

"It's kind of, frankly, embarrassing."

Meng's next court appearance is Feb. 6.