Justin Trudeau knew ahead of time that authorities planned to arrest the Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng in Vancouver, the Canadian PM revealed Thursday.
President Donald Trump, who at the time of the arrest Saturday was sitting down for dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires, had reportedly not been informed.
The arrest of Meng, the daughter of the tech giant’s founder, shook global markets and heightened already-strained tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Trudeau revealed his prior knowledge of the arrest at an event in Montreal on Thursday, claiming there was no political motivation on Canada’s part, as Ottawa seeks closer economic ties with Beijing.
“The appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case,” Trudeau told reporters. “We were advised by them with a few days’ notice that this was in the works, but, of course, there was no engagement or involvement at the political level in this decision because we respect the independence of our judicial processes.”
In Washington, it appears the Department of Justice decided not to inform the White House about the impending arrest.
National Security Adviser John Bolton told NPR he “knew in advance” when asked about the arrest. However, a spokesperson later clarified that Bolton was referring to the fact he knew about the arrest after it happened but before it was reported by the media.
Meng will appear in court Friday for a bail hearing with the U.S. seeking her extradition. It remains unclear what charges the executive would face in the U.S.
Initial reports in Canada said the charges related to violations of U.S. sanctions in place to prevent U.S.-origin technology being sold to Iran — a charge Huawei’s Chinese rival ZTE was found guilty of last year.
Meng has requested a publication ban on the details of the U.S. allegations, which remains in effect.
If a judge approves the U.S. request for extradition at a future hearing, the final decision to send Meng across the border rests with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. Meng has the right to appeal her extradition, and if she does it could delay a decision for years.
Beijing has strongly condemned the U.S. and Canada for detaining Meng, calling for her immediate release and labeling the move a violation of her human rights.
Canada said Thursday it was preparing for an increase in retaliatory cyberattacks from China as a result of the arrest.
“We always have to be resilient no matter what the possible trigger could be so we increase our resilience against any form of malicious activity that we could be facing as a nation," Scott Jones, the head of the new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, said. “We are working very closely with the broader security community.”
Meng’s detention comes at a time of tension between Washington and Beijing, with both sides engaged in negotiations to try and avert an all-out trade war between the two economic superpowers.
Trump claimed Thursday negotiations were going smoothly, despite Meng’s detention.
Cover image: Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump during the G7 official welcome at Le Manoir Richelieu on day one of the G7 meeting on June 8, 2018 in Quebec City, Canada. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)