Defense tells Canada court that Huawei CFO's arrest was legal, but not her detainment

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s arrest was valid, but her ongoing detainment is illegal, defense lawyers told a Canadian court on Wednesday, in a slight deviation from China’s official stance on the case.

FILE PHOTO: Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada December 7, 2020. REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier

Meng, 49, was arrested in December 2018 at Vancouver International Airport on a warrant from the United States, where she faces charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran.

She maintains her innocence and is fighting extradition while under house arrest in Vancouver.

Huawei lawyers have argued that Meng’s actions were so far removed from the United States that the country has no legitimate jurisdiction over them.

Prosecutors representing the Canadian government have argued in court that Canada had no choice but to arrest Meng under treaty obligations to the United States, given that there was an outstanding warrant for her arrest.

Defense lawyer Gib van Ert said on Wednesday that he agreed Canada had to arrest Meng, “having received what was, on its face, a bona fide extradition request.”

But he said her continued detainment was illegal.

“There’s nothing about it that is an arbitrary detention, but ... it is now revealed to be an unlawful detention,” van Ert said, pointing to the defense allegation that the United States broke international law by requesting her arrest.

China has said that it considers Meng’s arrest and possible extradition illegal. In the aftermath of her being detained, China arrested two Canadians on charges of espionage, which Canada has said it sees as retaliation.

Meng’s case is set to conclude in May.

Reporting by Moira Warburton and Sarah Berman in Vancouver; Editing by Peter Cooney