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Huawei's big week in court kicks off with extradition hearing

Vancouver, British Columbia (CNN Business)Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, arrived in a packed courthouse in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday morning for a hearing that could determine whether she is extradited from Canada to stand trial in the United States on charges of bank fraud and sanctions violations.

The hearing comes just over a year after Meng's arrest in Vancouver on behalf of the United States, a highly politicized move that could have significant implications for Meng and Huawei, as well as for relations between Canada, China and the United States. In addition to her executive role, Meng is also the daughter of Huawei's CEO, Ren Zhengfei.

Following Meng'a arrest, two Canadians were detained in China, in what was largely seen as retaliation. China said at the time there was no comparison between the two cases.

Even before Meng's arrival Monday morning, a group of media and demonstrators had gathered outside the courthouse. Protestors held signs that read: "Free Ms. Meng. Bring Michael home. Trump stop bullying us. Equal Justice," referring to the Canadians arrested in China.

Meng has been under house arrest in Vancouver while awaiting the extradition trial. She arrived Monday wearing heels that showed off her ankle monitor and waved to the waiting media.

This week's hearing will cover a crucial element of the extradition process called "double criminality." To extradite someone from Canada, the conduct they will be tried for in the destination country must also amount to a crime under Canadian law.

Canada's attorney general has argued that because Meng and Huawei are alleged to have committed bank fraud — which is also a crime in Canada — that standard is met.

In addition to bank fraud, the Trump administration alleges Meng illegally evaded US sanctions against Iran. But Meng's defense team has argued that the standard is not met because, they say, the essence of the US case against Meng includes violations of sanctions that do not exist in Canada.

A member of her defense counsel opened testimony Monday saying: "One way to begin is by posing a question: Would we be here in the absence of US sanctions law. Our respectful submission and response is no."

"This extradition has every appearance of the US seeking to enlist Canada to enforce the very sanctions which we have repudiated," Meng's lawyer said, noting Canada remains in the multi-nation Iran agreement that the Trump administration got out of.

In a statement posted online Monday morning, Huawei said the company trusts in "Canada's judicial system, which will prove Ms. Meng's innocence."

The hearing is expected to run through Thursday.

If a Canadian federal judge determines that the double criminality standard is met, the extradition process will continue. If not, Meng could be released.

Huawei's troubles in the United States started a year ago, including several lawsuits and its placement on the Entity List that restricted it from buying from US suppliers.
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