Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A Canadian court has begun hearings in the high-profile case of a senior Huawei executive fighting against extradition to the United States.
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, 47, was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018, in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the request of the United States where she faces several fraud and bank fraud charges as well as violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
On Monday, she sat in court in the bulletproof defendant's box as the first phase of the case began that will see the Supreme Court of British Columbia examine if the charges against her are crimes in Canada, a concept know as double criminality -- And if they are, then the extradited process will continue.
Attorney Richard Peck of her defense called the fraud charges against her "a facade" as Canada does not accept sanctions the United States accuses her of breaching.
Prosecutors accuse Meng of having put HSBC at risk of sanctions when it lied to the bank in 2013 about Huawei's relations with an Iranian-based subsidiary.
"This case is founded on allegations of breach of U.S. sanctions, which Canada has repudiated," he said. "The U.S. has cast [Meng's] alleged behavior as a fraud against a bank. This is an artifice."
He said the extradition case has the appearance of the United States using Canada to enforce sanctions it doesn't agree with as it is still a member of a multi-nation nuclear accord that U.S. President Trump pulled out of in 2018.
Prosecutors have said it justifies extradition, arguing that if the crimes alleged in the charges were committed on Canadian soil then they would be considered illegal actions.
Meng has denied the charges and has filed a countersuit against Canada for unlawful detention, accusing the North American country of violating her rights.
China has repeatedly voiced its support for its citizen, and on Monday accused Canada and the United States of abusing their bilateral extradition treaty to "arbitrarily" arrest a Chinese national.
"This is entirely a serious political incident that grossly violates the legitimate rights and interest of the Chinese citizen," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a press briefing. "Once again, we urge the Canadian side to take China's position and concerns seriously, release Ms. Meng and ensure her safe return to China at an early date."
Huawei released a statement saying it was inappropriate for its to comment on the case as it is before the courts, but that it trusts Canada's judicial system will prove Meng's innocence.
"Huawei stands with Ms. Meng in her pursuit for justice and freedom," Huawei spokesman Benjamin Howes said in a recorded statement. "We hope Ms. Meng will be together with her family, colleagues and friends as soon as possible."
Meng's arrest last December has fractured the relations between the two countries. Largely seen as a retaliatory move, China arrested two Canadian nationals on charges of espionage shortly after Meng was detained at the Vancouver airport.
Deputy Prime Minster Chrystia Freeland told reporters Monday in Winnipeg that the government's top priority is the release of Canadian diplomat Micheal Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.
"Our government has been clear that we're a rule of law country and we honor our extradition treaty commitments, and that's what we need to do and that is what we'll do," she said.