Meng Wanzhou, Chief Financial Officer of Huawei who was arrested in Canada at the request of US authorities have been freed on bail 10 days after her arrest.
The ordeal has attracted a lot of coverage that has seen China take an unusual vocal stance against what it calls the US government’s bullying of Chinese companies.
Meng Wanzhou was charged with misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating US sanctions
In a court hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Justice William Ehrcke granted C$10m (€6.6m) bail to Meng, who has been jailed since her arrest on December 1. The courtroom erupted in applause when the decision was announced. Meng cried and hugged her lawyers.
Among conditions of her bail, the 46-year-old executive must wear an ankle monitor and stay at home from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Five friends pledged equity in their homes and other money as a guarantee she will not flee.
If a Canadian judge rules the case against Meng is strong enough, Canada’s justice minister must next decide whether to extradite her to the United States. If so, Meng would face US charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge.
The arrest of Meng has further soured Chinese-US relations especially because it came during the ongoing 90-day truce within which both countries were expected to arrive at a plan to end their trade war.
In a statement made on Tuesday, President Donald Trump told Reuters he would be willing to intervene in the Meng case If it served national interests and would help the US reach a trade deal that ends the trade war.
China had threatened severe consequences unless Canada released Meng immediately, and analysts have said retaliation from Beijing over the arrest was likely.
The US State Department is considering issuing a travel warning for its citizens, two sources said on Tuesday.
The Canadian government was considering issuing a similar warning, Canada’s CTV network reported. The reports haven’t yet been confirmed.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Canadian government said that one of its citizens in China had been detained. Two sources have revealed the person detained was Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig. The Canadian government said it saw no explicit link to the Huawei case.
Canada’s former ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacquees, disagrees. ‘In China, there are no coincidences … If they want to send you a message they will send you a message,’ he said when asked if the arrest was a coincidence by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
The Chinese embassy did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Meng has maintained a not guilty plea throughout he incarceration.
During her bail hearing, her lawyer had argued that she was not a flight risk, citing her longstanding ties to Canada, properties she owns in Vancouver and fears for her health while in prison.
Her family assured the court she would remain in Vancouver at one of her family houses in an affluent neighbourhood. Her husband said he plans to bring the couple’s daughter to Vancouver to attend school, and Meng had said she would be grateful for the chance to read a novel after years of working hard.
‘I am satisfied that on the particular facts of this case … the risk of her non-attendance in court can be reduced to an acceptable level by imposing bail conditions,’ said the judge, adding that he was also persuaded by the fact that Meng was a well-educated businesswoman with no criminal record.
She must remain in Canada and be accompanied by security guards when she leaves her residence. Meng will pay a cash deposit of C$7m, with five guarantors liable for a remaining C$3m if she absconds.
Meng was ordered to reappear in court on February 6 to make plans for further appearances.
Huawei, the chinses phone and network equipment provider has said it looks forward to a ‘timely resolution’ of the case.
‘We have every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach a just conclusion,’ it said, adding that it complied with all laws and regulations where it operates.
The case against Meng stems from a 2013 report about Huawei’s close ties to Hong Kong-based Skycom Tech, which attempted to sell US equipment to Iran despite US and European Union bans.
Huawei is the world’s largest supplier of telecommunications network equipment and second-biggest maker of smartphones, with revenue of about $92bn last year. Unlike other big Chinese technology firms, it does much of its business overseas.