Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who has been held under house arrest in Canada since December 2018, will be allowed to return to China after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors to defer her extradition to the U.S.
The Guardian reported Meng appeared virtually at a U.S. federal court hearing in New York on Friday from Vancouver. During the hearing, Meng agreed to a deal under which her prosecution for bank and wire fraud charges will be deferred until December 2022 and the extradition effort will be dropped entirely after that point if she sticks to a set of obligations in the deal.
According to the Guardian, one of the obligations laid out in the deal to defer her prosecution is to not contradict a statement of facts she signed which could be an admission of some wrongdoing in her case. The full extent of the deal has not been made public at this time.
The bank and wire fraud charges against Meng stem from allegations she misled the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) about Huawei’s business relationship with an Iranian subsidiary, Skycom. According to U.S. prosecutors, the alleged deception could have put the British bank in violation of Iran sanctions laws, CNN reported.
The Guardian reported Meng was also set to appear before a superior court in British Columbia, Canada on Friday afternoon. Meng’s lawyers reportedly hope the Canadian court hearing will be the last key hurdle before Meng is cleared to leave Canada after being under house arrest for almost three years.
The effort to extradite Meng has been a part of a larger diplomatic dispute between the U.S. and China over Huawei, a major Chinese telecommunications firm that both President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden’s administrations have said poses a national security threat.
Bonnie Glaser, the director of the Asia Programme at the German Marshall Fund, told the Guardian that diplomatic tensions between the U.S., China and Canada may not be resolved even if Meng’s case is effectively dropped.
Shortly after Meng’s 2018 arrest, China detained two Canadian nationals residing in the country, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. The timing of the arrest of the “two Michaels” had sparked criticism that China was engaging in hostage diplomacy.
“Attitudes in Canada toward China have soured significantly over the past three years, in large part due to the arrest of the two Michaels,” Glaser told the Guardian. “Assuming that they are released quickly, Canada-China relations may improve, but only gradually and only if [China] invests a great deal of effort.”
As for U.S.-China relations, Glaser said, “there are so many challenges that the resolution of [Meng’s case] is unlikely to have a major impact.”