China demands the release of Chief Financial Officer at tech giant Huawei Technologies after she was detained in Canada on extradition charges to the U.S.
Meng Wanzhou, also known as Sabrina Meng and Cathy Meng, was apprehended in Vancouver on December 1, according to Canadian Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod. In addition to her role as CFO, Meng serves as deputy chairwoman of Huawei’s board. She’s the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.
Meng “is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday,” McLeod said in a statement, which was first reported by The Globe and Mail.
McLeod said the Canadian Justice Department can’t share details of the case. Meng was granted a publication ban after a judge agreed to bar both police and prosecutors from releasing information about the case.
A Huawei spokesperson said Meng was detained by Canadian authorities on behalf of the United States when she was transferring flights in Canada. Huawei said she faces unspecified charges in the Eastern District of New York. The Wall Street Journal reported in April that the US Justice Department was investigating whether Huawei violated US sanctions on Iran.
“The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng,” the spokesperson said. “The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion. Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.”
The US Justice Department declined to comment.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said officials have been contacted both in the U.S. and Canada to demand Meng’s release. Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the ministry, said her detention needed to be explained, and both countries had to “effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of the person concerned.”
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this yearthat U.S. authorities are investigating whether Huawei violated sanctions on Iran.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a member of the Senate banking committee and a subcommittee on national security and international trade and finance, praised Canada for detaining Meng while accusing Huawei of “breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran.”
“China is working creatively to undermine our national security interests, and the United States and our allies can’t sit on the sidelines,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
The Chinese company, which sells smartphones and telecommunications equipment around the world, has been facing increased scrutiny in the United States and other countries, where officials have warned of potential national security risks from using Huawei products. The United States is concerned that the Chinese government could be using Huawei’s networking technology to spy on Americans.
UK telecom company BT (BT) said Wednesday that it would not buy equipment from the Chinese tech company for the core of its next generation wireless network. The company also said it would remove existing Huawei technology from the heart of its 4G network within two years.