Canada has arrested the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies at the request of the US, authorities said Wednesday.
Meng Wanzhou, who is also deputy chair of Huawei’s board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday and is facing extradition to the US, Ian McLeod, a spokesperson for Canada’s Justice Department, said in a statement provided to dpa.
“She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday,” McLeod said. “As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time. The ban was sought by Ms Meng.”
The Globe and Mail newspaper cited an anonymous source “with knowledge of the arrest” saying that US law enforcement authorities are alleging that Meng tried to evade the US trade embargo against Iran, but provided no further details.
China’s embassy in Canada said it “firmly opposes and strongly protests” Meng’s arrest.
Meng was “not violating any American or Canadian law,” an embassy spokesperson said in a statement.
China has lodged “stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Meng,” the spokesperson added.
Huawei, the world’s largest maker of cellular-tower electronics and other telecommunications equipment said it had been provided with “very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, prosecutors in New York have been investigating whether Huawei violated US sanctions against Iran.
The Trump administration has also cited Huawei as a threat to American supremacy in the race to develop the future of mobile communications, the Journal reported in April.
It has put pressure on Canada and other allies not to use Huawei equipment in their new 5G telecommunications networks.
In October, in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US Senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner expressed “grave concerns” about the possibility of Chinese government interference in Canada’s telecommunications network.
Earlier Wednesday, British telecoms group BT confirmed that it would not buy equipment from Huawei in an another major blow to the company.
Australia banned Huawei and another Chinese company, ZTE, from building their 5G network in August, citing security concerns, while last month New Zealand’s GCSB spy agency banned mobile-operator Spark from using Huawei equipment in its planned 5G upgrade.
Huawei has previously denied it has breached US sanctions, saying it complies with all applicable laws and regulations, “including the applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.”