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By Linda Givetash
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to distance himself from the detention of a Chinese executive and insisted the move was not politically motivated.
Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, is expected to attend a bail hearing in Vancouver on Friday after being arrested for possible extradition to the U.S. on Dec. 1.
Trudeau told a news conference Thursday that Canada’s courts acted independently and there was no political involvement in the case.
“We respect the independence of our judicial processes,” he said. “Further to that, I have not had any direct or indirect conversations with any of my international counterparts on this.”
Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies and its founder Ren Zhengfei, who is also Meng’s father, is one of the most powerful businessmen in China.
The company said it’s “not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng” while China’s Foreign Ministry has demanded she be released.
Weng’s arrest came on the heels of a meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit where they agreed to pause the ongoing trade war to give Washington and Beijing more time to talk.
News of her detention sent markets in a nosedive on Thursday as fears for the future of U.S.-China trade persist.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Thursday extraditing Weng to the U.S. would be the “right thing” for the Canadian courts to do.
The case initiated by the Justice Department is a legal, not political, issue, Rubio said. He added that the Trump administration is “well aware of the threat posed” by Huawei.
Reuters reported that the probe into Huawei has included the company’s use of British bank HSBC Holdings Plc. to make illegal transactions involving Iran.
Huawei said in a statement that the company complies with international laws and regulations. HSBC has declined to comment on the case.
A publication ban, requested by Meng, is in effect for Friday’s bail hearing. The ban restricts media from reporting on evidence presented.
Lawyers specializing in extradition and immigration cases told Reuters that bail will likely be set in the millions and Meng will be required to hand over her passport.
If she fights extradition, experts say it could take years to resolve the legal battle but if she accepts the order, she could be facing American courts within weeks.