A court in Canada has granted bail to a top executive of Chinese telecom giant Huawei while she awaits an extradition hearing, 10 days after her arrest at the request of the United States sparked a diplomatic dispute.
Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, faces US accusations that she misled multinational banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran, putting the lenders at risk of violating Washington’s sanctions.
Justice William Ehrcke, at a court hearing in Vancouver on Tuesday, granted bail to Meng subject to a guarantee of C$10m ($7.5m) and other conditions, including wearing an ankle monitor and staying at home from 11pm to 6am. Five friends pledged equity in their homes and other money as a guarantee she will not flee.
“The risk of her non-attendance in court (for a future extradition hearing) can be reduced to an acceptable level by imposing the bail conditions proposed by her counsel,” the judge said, prompting the court packed with her supporters to erupt in cheers.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested as part of a US investigation on December 1 as she was transferring flights in Vancouver.
If a Canadian judge rules the case against Meng is strong enough, Canada’s justice minister must next decide whether to extradite her to the US. If so, Meng would face US charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge.
The 46-year-old’s arrest roiled financial markets and complicated efforts to resolve a bitter trade war dispute between the US and China, the world’s two largest economies.
President Donald Trump told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday he would intervene in the US Justice Department’s case against Meng if it would serve national security interests or help close a trade deal with China.
“What happens next is that the US has until January 8 to file a formal request with Canada for Meng to be extradited to the US,” Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds, reporting from Vancouver, said.
China had threatened severe consequences unless Canada released Meng immediately.
Amid rising tension between Beijing and Ottawa, Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed on Tuesday that a former Canadian diplomat had been detained in China.
“We’re deeply concerned,” Goodale said. “A Canadian is obviously in difficulty in China. … We are sparing no effort to do everything we possibly can to look after his safety.”
Michael Kovrig, who previously worked as a diplomat in China and elsewhere, was taken into custody by the Beijing Bureau of Chinese State Security on Monday night during one of his regular visits to Beijing, said the International Crisis Group, for which Kovrig works as North East Asia adviser.
Rob Malley, head of the Brussels-based non-governmental group, said Canadian consular officers had not been given access to Kovrig. He thinks Kovrig was in Beijing on personal matters and was definitely not there for any reason that would undermine Chinese national security.