Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. Photo: Reuters

The chief financial officer of Chinese telecom firm Huawei made a brief appearance at a British Colombia court on Wednesday, as her lawyers prepare for what will likely be a lengthy fight to challenge her extradition to the US.

Meng is currently residing in Vancouver on bail after she was arrested by Canadian authorities in December. Should she be extradited, Meng will face criminal charges in the United States in relation to alleged conspiracy to violate Iran sanctions.

The proceeding this week was held to determine the timing of the formal extradition hearings.

Richard Peck, a lawyer for Meng, said that he is concerned about the “political character” of the US request to extradite her, according to CBC News.

“This is a rare case in the extradition context,” Peck was quoted as telling Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes. “There are serious concerns of a legal and factual nature that arise.”

Meng filed a lawsuit against Canadian authorities earlier in the week, alleging that law enforcement “intentionally failed to advise her of the true reasons for her detention, her right to counsel and her right to silence.”

The Chinese government has accused the United States of holding Meng hostage as part of a political campaign to discredit Huawei, and has threatened – through state media and diplomatic channels – that Canada would face consequences if they did not release the defendant.

Following the Huawei executive’s arrest, two Canadians were detained in China and were this week formally accused of espionage. A third Canadian who had previously been convicted of drug trafficking has had his sentence changed to the death penalty, an action that is also seen as a response to Meng’s case.

Ottawa has said that, under its extradition treaty with the US, Canada has no choice but to follow through with legal proceedings.

Complicating the issue, US President Donald Trump has on several occasions suggested that he might be willing to drop the case against Meng in exchange for a trade deal with China, calling into question the independence of the judicial system.

“We’re going to be discussing all of that during the course of the next couple of weeks, and we’ll be talking to the US attorneys. We’ll be talking to the Attorney-General,” Trump told reporters in February.

The president has broad authority to intercede in federal law enforcement actions, legal experts say, but it would be a break from long-standing norms of presidential conduct.

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