Canada blames US for Huawei CFO arrest backlash that left 2 citizens in Chinese prison and a 3rd on death row

huawei trudeau meng trumpA composite image of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, and US President Donald Trump.Drew Angerer/Getty Image; Huawei; Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

  • Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese telcom giant Huawei, last month at the request of US authorities.
  • Beijing subsequently detained two Canadians and put another on death row.
  • Canada's ambassador to the US, David MacNaughton, blamed Washington for the backlash on Monday, in an interview with The Globe and Mail newspaper.
  • He said the US "are the ones seeking to have the full force of American law brought against [Meng] and yet we are the ones who are paying the price."
  • The US also plans to formally extradite Meng from Canada, MacNaughton told the newspaper.

Canada has blamed the US for the diplomatic fallout from the arrest of Chinese telcom giant Huawei's CFO, saying it is "paying the price" of Beijing's anger.

Since Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's CFO and daughter of its founder, on December 1, two Canadians have been detained in China, and a third had a prison sentence upgraded to the death penalty.

Meng is suspected of violating US sanctions on Iran and of misleading banks and investors about a second company that was selling to Iran.

She remains on bail in her multi-million-dollar Vancouver home. She was forced to give up her passport and now wears a GPS monitor, but is otherwise free to leave the house outside an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

Meng Wanzhou house CanadaA home owned by the family of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is being held on an extradition warrant, is picturedReuters

Shortly after Meng's arrest, China detained two Canadians - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor - in Chinese prison cells where the lights are on 24 hours a day.

Earlier this month, Beijing also sentenced 36-year-old Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death. Schellenberg had been sentenced to prison after a conviction for international drug trafficking, but had it upgraded to the death penalty.

Experts have directly linked the three cases to the Huawei case, with Canadian authorities calling the detentions and death penalty "arbitrary."

Read more: China sentenced a Canadian man to death in the latest escalation of the countries' feud over Huawei

robert lloyd schellenbergA still image taken from CCTV video shows Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg in court, where he was sentenced with a death penalty for drug smuggling, in Dalian, Liaoning province, China January 14, 2019.CCTV/Reuters TV via REUTERS

In a rare public rebuke, Canada's ambassador to the US David MacNaughton told The Globe and Mail on Monday: "We don't like that it is our citizens who are being punished.

"[The Americans] are the ones seeking to have the full force of American law brought against [Meng] and yet we are the ones who are paying the price," he added. "Our citizens are."

MacNaughton has already "voiced Canadian anger and resentment" to the White House over the backlash from China, The Globe and Mail said.

Read more: China accuses Canada of 'white supremacy' over the detention of Huawei CFO

Meng WanzhouMeng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei.REUTERS/Alexander Bibik

Washington takes the fight into its own hands

The US now plans to formally request Meng's extradition from Canada to the US, MacNaughton told The Globe and Mail, without specifying when the Americans would start the process.

A spokesman for the US Justice Department told Reuters regarding the reported extradition plan: "We will comment through our filings." Business Insider was unable to contact the department due to the US government shutdown.

Federal prosecutors in the US also launched a criminal investigation into Huawei over allegations that the company stole trade secrets from US companies, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

Canada's ministry of justice would have to decide whether to extradite Meng, and she can appeal any decision made.

xi jinpingXi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, on November 2, 2018.Thomas Peter/Getty

China hits back while Huawei begs for a truce

China's foreign ministry has repeatedly called for Meng's release and described the arrest as a "mistake." On Tuesday, it threatened to retaliate against the planned US extradition.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Tuesday: "China will take action in response to measures taken by the US."

"Everyone has to be held responsible for their own actions," she added. "Both the US and Canada should be aware of the seriousness of the case and take steps to rectify the mistake."

Huawei itself has taken a softer stance, with its founder Ren Zhengfei breaking years of silence last week to plead for his daughter's release. He also called US President Donald Trump a "great president" in an effort to alleviate his company's tensions with the US.

Trump previously alluded to using Meng's arrest as a bargaining chip in the US' trade war with China, saying in December: "I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary."

Read more: The reclusive founder of Huawei broke years of silence after his daughter's arrest in Canada to say he misses her 'very much'

meng wanzhou huawei cfo bail hearingA drawing of Meng during her bail hearing on December 7 in British Columbia's Supreme Court.Reuters/Jane Wolsak

A Huawei spokeswoman declined to comment when Business Insider asked how the company would respond to the extradition request, and whether it was working with the Chinese government to formulate a response.

The spokesman told Business Insider in a statement: "Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including export control and sanction laws of the UN, US, and EU."

"We have every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach a just conclusion," she added.

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