Canada’s justice department on Friday began the process of extraditing Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to the United States to face criminal charges related to alleged Iran sanctions violations.
The Huawei chief financial officer was arrested at Washington’s request on December 1 as she changed planes in Vancouver.
“Today, Department of Justice Canada officials issued an Authority to Proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Ms. Meng Wanzhou,” said a statement.
The decision, it said, “follows a thorough and diligent review of the evidence in this case,” which was found to be “sufficient” to warrant putting the matter before an extradition judge to decide.
Meng is expected to appear in court on March 6 when prosecutors will present the evidence against her and lay out “detailed arguments” for her extradition.
At the end of the process, if a judge orders an extradition, the attorney general would have the final say on whether or not to hand her over to US authorities.
What happens next?
Ms Meng is currently out on bail in Vancouver and will remain so while court proceedings are under way.
She is next scheduled to appear in the British Columbia Supreme Court on 6 March, when it will be confirmed Canada has issued the “Authority to Proceed” in her extradition to the US.
Her extradition hearing will also be scheduled at that time.
This decision is still an early step in the process.
If a judge is satisfied with the evidence presented during the extradition hearing, he or she will authorise the individual be committed for extradition. The justice minister then decides whether to surrender the person to the US.
Ms Meng does have avenues to appeal throughout the process.
In some rare instances, extradition cases have dragged on for over a decade.
What was the reaction to her arrest?
Ms Meng’s arrest infuriated Chinese officials, who insist that she has not violated any laws, and led to a rise in diplomatic tensions between China and Canada.
Canada says it is only following the rule of law in the case, but that has not appeased China.
Two Canadians are believed to have been detained in retaliation for Ms Meng’s arrest.
Ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were both detained in China in mid-December on accusations of harming national security.
The case could also ratchet up tensions between China and the US, and impact the firm’s global expansion efforts.
What is Huawei accused of?
The US alleges Huawei misled the US and a global bank about its relationship with two subsidiaries, Huawei Device USA and Skycom Tech, to conduct business with Iran.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has reinstated all sanctions on Iran removed under a 2015 nuclear deal and recently imposed even stricter measures, hitting oil exports, shipping and banks.
It also alleges Huawei stole technology from T Mobile used to test smartphone durability, as well as obstructing justice and committing wire fraud.
In all, the US has laid 23 charges against the company.