Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s civil lawsuit against Canada could give her defense team a potential advantage to fight her extradition to the United States, a lawyer told CNBC on Thursday.
Last week, Meng’s lawyers said they were suing the Canadian government, its border agency and the country’s federal police for their role in arresting her at the request of the U.S., Reuters said. The CFO was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1.
Meng’s “defense got creative last week,” Richard Kurland, a policy analyst and lawyer from Kurland Tobe immigration law firm, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“There’s a multiplicity of litigation in this Huawei affair,” he said, explaining that the civil proceedings could be used to pry documents and information from senior government officials from both the U.S. and Canada that may ultimately aid Meng’s side in the extradition case.
Meng’s lawyers argue she was detained, searched and interrogated for three hours in Vancouver before her arrest in violation of her constitutional rights, including the right to remain silent or the right to counsel.
Kurland pointed out the defense could argue evidence gathered prior to the arrest is inadmissible in court. They can further state “the conduct at the airport, on arrival, by Canadian government officials brings the administration of justice into disrepute. And the entire extradition case falls on that,” he said.
For its part, Huawei on Thursday formally said it is suing the U.S. over a law that bans government agencies from buying its equipment, claiming the legislation is unconstitutional.
Meng, and Huawei, has been accused of bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy in what the U.S. Justice Department alleges was a years-long scheme to deceive international banks over the nature of payments made through a Hong Kong technology supplier.
Her defense team said it plans to argue against extradition in part because of possible political issues and comments from U.S. President Donald Trump. The American leader had previously said he could intervene in the case against Huawei if it would help his administration secure a good trade deal with China.
On Mar. 1, Canada approved extradition proceedings against the executive. A Canadian court set May 8 as the next court date for Meng, but it could take months before the judge orders a recommendation for her extradition. Even then, the Canadian justice minister will have the final say on whether Meng will be sent to the U.S.
Experts said that the case could take months, if not years, to be resolved. The longer it drags on, the more complicated it becomes for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as relations between Ottawa and Beijing strain further.
China has been exerting both economic and political pressure on Canada. Recently, it blocked some canola shipments from a large Canadian company without providing any explanations. Elsewhere, two Canadians who were detained in China following Meng’s arrest were charged with espionage this week. A third Canadian citizen has been put on death row in China for smuggling drugs.
Former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney wrote in a recent op-ed for The Globe and Mail that, almost three months after it began, the Canada-China crisis has yet to find bottom. He said Canada needs to stay focused on building international support to free its detained citizens and obtain leniency for Robert Schellenberg, the man facing a death sentence.
Mulroney added that Ottawa should allow the extradition process to play out and resist intervening to placate China as it could undermine Canada’s international credibility.
Those foreign policy problems come amid domestic headaches for the Trudeau government, which is facing allegations that some officials tried to help a construction company avoid a corruption trial.