Mr. Christopher Black’s Speech
on Cross-Canada Campaign to
Free Meng Wanzhou Panel Discussion
May 20, 2021
It's a great honour to be here and to join everybody else in this panel. It's a very important one.
And I was assigned to talk about the legal issues and what's involved and why Meng was arrested in the first place. I guess I’ll start out by saying that we object to the arrest and detention of Meng Wanzhou, because it's based on the U.S extradition request that was made for political reasons, the objective being to use her detention as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations between China and the United States as harassment of an attempt to discredit Huawei to prevent it competing with U.S and EU tech companies, and as an attempt to enforce the illegal economic embargo or economic warfare being conducted by the United States against Iran. It was meant to send a message, and is a warning to others. Now President Trump made it clear in a statement days after her arrest, that he would certainly intervene in the case if it led to a better outcome for the U.S in trade negotiations. Her lawyers rightly call this abhorrent, for it proves that Meng is in fact held hostage to force China to bend to its will. The fact that Prime Minister Trudeau was made aware of the American request days before her arrest confirming John Bolton's statement to the same effect also establishes that the matter was discussed at a high political level before the request was sent to Canada.
Further, her arrest took place during a period of increasingly hostile and aggressive propaganda and actions against China by the United States. Canada, the EU, Australia and Britain, the former colonial powers, except for Canada. Although you can view Canada as a colonial power, respect to its own indigenous peoples. It has also to be seen in light of the illegal arrests of citizens of other nations the U.S has targeted as enemies while no such arrests have taken place of employees of European, Canadian or other companies doing business with Iran. So Meng’s case can also be seen as a case of selective prosecution, which is a defense available to Meng, since if it is established, the courts can stay the charges, and as it is considered unjust to charge some but not others. For instance, we can cite the cases of Alex Saab, a Columbia-born Venezuelan businessman who was appointed a special envoy by the Republic of Venezuela who was en route to Iran to buy medical supplies for the people of Venezuela went on June 20, 2020. He was detained in Cape Verde in Africa, thrown in jail, held in solitary confinement, psychologically tortured, and then finally got bail and released, although the courts in Cape Verde ordered his extradition to the United States. Fortunately for him, the African bar Association and the economic community of West African countries objected, and that has been stopped so far.
We can also cite the case of Mun Chol Myong, a North Korean businessman who was also extradited from Malaysia to the United States in March of this year, on similar charges that he was helping North Korea, and all he was doing was helping North Korea obtain necessary supplies. Now the connection between these cases for the Americans is that in these transactions a SWIFT bank clearing system was used to transfer funds. And in fact, this is the only claim to jurisdiction that the Americans attempt to make. I shall deal with this a bit later. There have also been several Russians detained by the Americans under similar claims, we can't go in. We haven't got time to go into all those.
So we see a pattern of illegal actions by the Americans against nations in which they use people as ponds to affect their hostile foreign policy. It’s also indicated by the fact that the United States chose to target an employee of a company instead of the company itself, which it usually does in these cases. Since the employees are acting under the company instructions as the company the corporate entity which is responsible for the actions of its employees.
Now I've been asked to say, just tell people, explain what extradition is, what is it. Extradition is simply the legal process by which one state seeks to have a person who committed a crime in that state or was convicted of a crime in that state return to that state from another state in which they are now located. This also takes place between provinces in Canada, or states within the United States when someone is committed a crime in one jurisdiction, but is located in another jurisdiction.
Since all nations are sovereign, although the Americans try to deny that, such requests are made possible by treaties between various nations, and Meng’s case is controlled by the extradition treaty between Canada and the United States. The extradition hearing is not a trial. The requesting state here, the American state, is only required to prove that it has a Prima Facia case against a person.
That is a case that if not answered, could result in a conviction at trial. However, the arguments put forward by her legal team respected the substance of the charges about prosecutorial misconduct by the Americans deceiving the Canadian court on the facts alleged and what the real facts are are all meant to establish that the U.S does not have a Prima Facia case, and that the allegations are political in nature. So that requires us to look at the extradition treaty, and the controlling paragraph of that is Article 4 Subparagraph C, which says extraditions shall not be granted in any of the following circumstances,
“When the offense in respect of which extradition is requested is of a political character, or the person whose extradition is requested proves that the extradition request has been made for the purpose of trying or punishing him for an offense of the above-mentioned character.”
It is important to note that the article makes it an obligation on the requested state, which is Canada in this case, to refuse a politically motivated request. The requested state does not have any discretion in the matter. It must refuse the request In such circumstances. Article 9 is also important because it states that the request for extradition shall be made through diplomatic channels. This is important, an important factor, because the request is sent by the US State Department to the Canadian Foreign Ministry. Therefore, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice, would have received copies of the request and had the right at that time to refuse the request, knowing, as we do, and as they certainly did, that the request had no legitimate basis and was politically motivated.
By refusing to reject the request at that point, and instead, sending the file to a local federal crime prosecutor in British Colombia to be dealt with by the courts, the federal government arguably violated both the treaty and Meng’s right of protection under Article 4 of the treaty.
Indeed, The federal government can step in at any time under Article 4 to reject the request, and free Meng. They can do it today, they can do it tonight. They could do so, even if the judge in this case orders her extradition.
I had a case once, oh, thirty years ago now, of a man accused of two murders in the United States who faced a gas chamber. The Americans succeeded in the extradition hearing, and he was ordered extradited by the court. But I was able to arrange a meeting in order with the then Minister of Justice, Mr. Buchard at that time, and was successful in getting him to agree not to send the man to the United States unless they agreed not to seek the death penalty. And this fact was also stated in the famous letter of June 3, 2020, requesting Meng Wanzhou’s immediate release in order to soothe tensions between Canada and China, which was signed by a number of notable lawyers and former ministers, including the former Minister of Justice Allen Rock, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Axeworthy, the former Supreme Court Judge and former professor of mine, Louise Arbor, the very learned Toronto Appeal, Laura Brian Greenspan and several other former ministers, law professors, advisers to Prime Minister Trudeau, and high U.N officials such as Louise Frechette, who was at one time deputy attorney Secretary General of the United Nations. Though it's of interest that the letter signed by those people only wanted the release of Meng in order to obtain the release of the two Canadian Michaels, the Canadians arrested in China so that Canada could have a more hostile policy against China. But we'll leave that further to comment on.
Now Meng's defense team has presented these arguments to the court and the government, but they've also challenged the entire basis of the U.S indictment against Meng, for the indictment contains several counts, most of which refer to the violations of the US sanctions against Iran. But several counts are couched in terms of fraud. But they're still relating to violations of the Iran sanctions, so called. Now the U.S had to do this because Article 10 an Article 2 of the treaty also stipulate that the offence that they charge Meng with must also be an offence in Canada and provable in law as of such an offence. In other words, no one can be extradited to the U.S from Canada, unless the crime they are accused of is also a crime in Canada. Fraud is a crime shared by both countries and is listed in the treaty, but where is the fraud in this case? This question requires us to look at several factors as the main defense is done.