As Huawei CFO's Extradition Case Advances in Vancouver, China Sentences Canadian To 11 Years In Prison

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Aug 11, 2021 06:30 PM +05:30 IST
As Huawei CFO's Extradition Case Advances in Vancouver, China Sentences Canadian To 11 Years In PrisonMichael Spavor (Image: freemichaelspavor.com)
Snapshot
  • China is ramping up the pressure as a Canadian judge in Vancouver considers whether to extradite the Chinese tech giant's top official Meng Wanzhou to the US to face charges relating to alleged violations of Iran trade sanctions.

    China has increased pressure on Ottawa by sentencing a Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor for 11 years of imprisonment.

The lawyers for Huawei Technologies' chief financial officer made a final push for the Canadian court to reject a United States extradition request this week, while Beijing increased pressure on Ottawa by sentencing a Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor for 11 years of imprisonment.

After Huawei's executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested at the Vancouver airport in December 2018, Spavor and a former Canadian diplomat were held in what authorities called "hostage politics". Now, China is ramping up the pressure as a Canadian judge in Vancouver considers whether to extradite the Chinese tech giant's top official to the United States to face charges relating to alleged violations of Iran trade sanctions.

American prosecutors say she lied to HSBC Holdings Plc about Huawei's operations in Iran as part of a plot to circumvent the US trade sanctions. Her case is seen by the Chinese Communist Party as a politically motivated attack on one of its most prominent technologists.

Meng's lawyers told the judge during the latest hearing that letting her face fraud charges in New York would embolden American authorities to make inappropriate demands. According to one of the lawyers, Tony Paisana, the US "is not in charge of policing the world" and halting the extradition was the only way to address alleged abuses by American and Canadian authorities.

He told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes in British Columbia Supreme Court: "Misconduct of this sort cannot ever be tolerated, for to do so is to condone, perhaps even to invite, similar conduct."

The Huawei executive Meng, who is also the daughter of the company's founder, could face up to 30 years imprisonment if convicted in the US.

In China, a court in Dandong, roughly 210 miles (340 kilometres) east of Beijing on the North Korean border, convicted Spavor on 11 August, reported Associated Press.

The government has disclosed scant specifics about the case other than accusing Spavor of transmitting sensitive material in 2017 to Michael Kovrig, the former diplomat and a Hong Kong-based analyst at the International Crisis Group.

Both the Canadian citizens—detained in December 2018 after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government arrested Meng—have been isolated and have had limited interaction with Canadian authorities.

Spavor's punishment was harshly criticised by the Canadian government, and the authorities stated that he and Kovrig were "detained arbitrarily". The Canadian authorities have also demanded their immediate release.

Canadian Ambassador to China Dominic Barton said that Spavor's legal process "lacked both fairness and transparency" and he has two weeks to determine whether or not to file an appeal.

In a show of solidarity, diplomats from the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and other European countries, as well as the European Union, gathered at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing. They've also made separate appeals, requesting that Spavor and Kovrig be given fair trials or be released.

The top American diplomat in China, David Meale, said: "These proceedings are a blatant attempt to use human beings as bargaining leverage. Human beings should never be used as bargaining chips."

Although Beijing denies that Meng's issue is linked to the detention of Spavor and Kovrig, Chinese officials and state media routinely mention the two men when discussing whether the Huawei executive should be allowed to return to China. Earlier, Barton said he didn't think that it was a coincidence that the cases in China were happening at the same time Meng's case was moving forward in Vancouver.

In the case of negotiation possibilities—sending Meng to China in exchange for releasing both the Canadian nationals—Barton said: "There are intensive efforts and discussions. I don't want to talk in any detail about that. But that will continue."

While there is no surety about when Kovrig's verdict will be announced, according to the Canadian Embassy, as of 11 August, Spavor had been detained for 975 days.

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