Legal rationale for detention of Meng Wanzhou by the United States


Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Chinese multinational Huawei and daughter of its founder was detained on Dec 1, 2018 in Vancouver, Canada, at a request of the United States.

How do the United Stated justify this step? I guess the rationale is not that the United States imposed sanctions against Iran and that any citizens of third countries who do not implement the same sanctions may be arrested from now on. So were the sanctions also confirmed by an international body where China is affiliated and therefore co-liable for implementing them? Or is the step taken against a U.S. subsidy of Huawei where Ms. Meng may also serve as an executive and is therefore liable to U.S. law in this special capacity? I assume that Ms. Meng does not have U.S. (only Chinese) citizenship.

So what is the rationale that the U.S. cites (can cite) for detaining a foreign citizen in this case in terms of international law?


Posted 2018-12-09T08:27:33.093

Reputation: 1 029

Question was closed 2018-12-09T12:51:04.037

I'd suggest searching what thee exact charge is; it will inevitably include crime done in the US or with a US entity – None – 2018-12-09T09:56:05.737

@Philipp Sorry, I missed that other question. Thx for noticing. – Drux – 2018-12-09T14:21:11.653



Many nations allow their courts to prosecute cases which happened outside their border. This is called extraterritorial jurisdiction and it typically involves

  • crimes against their citizens,
  • crimes by their citizens,
  • crimes against humanity.

In this case, the US claims extraterritorial jurisdictions for crimes involving sanctions violation.

The interesting thing is Canada's role in all this. Arresting other countries' citizens in their homeland is difficult unless that county agrees. Arresting other countries' citizens in your country is easy. Arresting them in a third country (Canada in this case) becomes a political consideration for that third country. With whom would they rather cooperate in this instance?


Posted 2018-12-09T08:27:33.093

Reputation: 49 884

1Are you saying that the us is going to arrest any person, who goes against their sanctions? – user1721135 – 2018-12-09T11:48:21.473

1@user1721135, the United States may try to do that. It depends on which sanctions (those on Iran are especially tough) and if they can get extradition. – o.m. – 2018-12-09T13:59:42.847

@o.m. I recognize the concept of extraterritorial jurisdiction in principle, but I do not yet see how it would apply in this case. Surely there must be bounds on what kinds of violations countries can legally enforce under this title. – Drux – 2018-12-09T14:16:01.403


@Drux, international law is very much customary law. The traditional remedy against such arrests was to send the military, cf the Abyssinian War or the War of Jenkins' Ear.These days the Vienna Treaty on Consular Relation provides some protection, but it comes down to the fact that Canada can arrest people in Canada for almost any reason they can think of. Sovereignty trumps human rights in this case.

– o.m. – 2018-12-09T17:09:58.917