Chinese tech giant Huawei will fight the extradition of its chief financial officer and deputy chairwoman Meng Wanzhou to the United States, where she would face criminal charges, after she appeared in a Canadian court on Wednesday.
U.S. prosecutors have charged Meng, Huawei Technologies and two Huawei affiliates -- Huawei Device USA and Skycom Tech -- with 13 counts related to bank and wire fraud and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud. The charges stem from an alleged long-running scheme by Meng and other Huawei officials to deceive global banks and the U.S. government in order to do business with Iran, thereby circumventing American sanctions, U.S. authorities said.
After a pre-extradition procedural hearing on Wednesday in the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver, a representative for Meng called the case against her "political" and said that her arrest in Canada on behalf of the U.S. was "unlawful."
"From the beginning, Huawei has expressed extreme confidence in Ms. Meng's innocence. We have maintained that her U.S.-ordered arrest was an unlawful abuse of process -- one guided by political considerations and tactics, not by the rule of law," said Benjamin Howes, vice president of media affairs for Huawei Canada, outside the courthouse following the hearing.
The U.S. Justice Department's case against Meng is based on allegations that are "simply untrue," and Meng's business was conducted transparently with full knowledge of the banking officials who told prosecutors they were deceived, Howes said.
Howes argued that the extradition request is invalid because Meng's actions were not illegal in both Canada and the U.S.
Meng's legal troubles come at a tense time for the relationship between the U.S. and China. Stalled trade talks were kicked into high gear earlier this week when President Trump threatened additional tariffs on more than $200 billion in goods from China.
Then on Wednesday, Trump tweeted a theory that the Chinese were dragging out a deal in hopes of negotiating with a new president after 2020.
"The reason for the China pullback & attempted renegotiation of the Trade Deal is the sincere HOPE that they will be able to 'negotiate' with Joe Biden or one of the very weak Democrats, and thereby continue to ripoff the United States (($500 Billion a year)) for years to come..." Trump tweeted.
The reason for the China pullback & attempted renegotiation of the Trade Deal is the sincere HOPE that they will be able to “negotiate” with Joe Biden or one of the very weak Democrats, and thereby continue to ripoff the United States (($500 Billion a year)) for years to come....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2019
Huawei also claims that the case is political, based on comments Trump made about intervening in Meng's case if he thought it would help trade talks.
“If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Trump told Reuters in December.
Late on Wednesday in Beijing, a statement on the Chinese Commerce Ministry’s website warned of retaliation if Trump followed through with tariffs as China’s trade negotiator headed to the U.S. to resume talks on Thursday.
“An escalation in trade frictions is not in line with the American or Chinese interests or the interests of the world, and would thus be much to China’s regret. But if the U.S. goes ahead with its tariff measures against China, China will have to resort to necessary countermeasures,” part of the Chinese-language statement said.
Meanwhile, Beijing has accused two Canadians of spying and detained them without access to their families or lawyers. China has also sentenced a third man to death on drug charges since Meng's arrest in Canada.
Meng is the daughter of Huawei's 74-year-old founder, Ren Zhengfei and his presumptive successor to one of the most powerful companies in China, and in the world.
Meng's lawyer responded to requests for comment from ABC News.
ABC News' Meridith McGraw and Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.