Huawei arrest: How does extradition to the US work?

Washington: The arrest in Canada of a top Chinese technology executive for possible extradition to the United States has roiled markets and cast doubt on a recent US-China trade truce.

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the telecommunications company's founder, was detained on Saturday while changing planes in Vancouver.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters she faces extradition on charges related to US sanctions violations.

Chinese authorities have criticised the United States and Canada, saying they did not explain why Meng was arrested and demanded her release.

These are steps that US authorities typically follow in seeking arrests and extraditions of individuals in foreign countries.

How do US authorities arrange arrests in foreign countries?

Federal and state prosecutors in the United States cannot simply request that their foreign counterparts arrest and turn over an individual. Such requests must be made through the US Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs (OIA).

The OIA maintains lines of communication with authorities in other countries, and is responsible for taking the next steps leading to an arrest and an extradition.

Douglas McNabb, a Houston-based international criminal defence lawyer, said the decision to pursue charges against someone like Meng could have been made at senior US government levels, "given the circumstances that she is a Chinese citizen whose father has significant authority in the state."

How do extraditions from Canada to the United States work?

Canada is one of the more than 100 countries with which the United States has extradition treaties, obligating it to cooperate with OIA requests. These treaties vary by the offences covered, and some exclude a nation's own citizens or anyone facing capital punishment.

The longstanding US-Canada treaty requires the offence for which extradition is sought to be a crime in both countries.

It is not clear if OIA has formally requested Meng's extradition.

Once a request is received, a Canadian court must determine if there is sufficient evidence to support extradition and Canada's Minister of Justice must give a formal order.

What about countries with no extradition treaty?

China, Russia and Saudi Arabia are among the nations with no US extradition treaties.

If a US target is in one those countries, one option for OIA is to contact Interpol to put out a so-called red notice indicating there is an outstanding arrest warrant for that person.

Red notices are not typically made public, but many countries will arrest a person on the basis of a red notice as soon as that person arrives at a border crossing or airport in a third country that does have an extradition treaty with the United States.

Meng was arrested at an airport, but Reuters has not confirmed if Canada arrested her pursuant to a red notice.

Can Meng fight extradition to the United States?

OIA requests for extradition differ by treaty but generally require US authorities to document the nature of the charges and the evidence.

Defendants have typically fought extradition on the grounds that their rights in the arresting country would be violated if they were sent to the requesting country to face legal proceedings. Some previous fights have lasted for months or even years.


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