Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, appeared at the British Columbia Supreme Court on Monday 23 September, to begin three days of preliminary disclosure hearings as she and her legal team resist her extradition to the US.
Ms Meng was arrested in Vancouver airport on 1 December 2018 pursuant to a US extradition request. Ms Meng is alleged to have covered up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran, in violation of US trade sanctions and as a result, to have put US banks in risk of violating sanctions.
Lawyers for Ms Meng argued that agents of the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) misled her when she was first detained at Vancouver airport. Ms Meng was questioned for three hours following her arrest and claimed in court that by leading her to believe her arrest was related to an immigration issue, rather than as a result of a US warrant, her rights under Canada’s Charter were violated.
Her defence team submitted videos and thousands of pages of documents in support of their claim that Canadian authorities colluded with the US Federal Bureau of Investigations to engage in a “covert criminal investigation” with a view to unlawfully detaining, searching and interrogating Ms Meng.
Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general responded accusing the defence of “fishing” and stated that there is no evidence the CBSA acted improperly: “There was no conspiracy. The only plan was for the CBSA to carry out its lawful mandate and nothing more.”
Ms Meng’s lawyers were undeterred by the Attorney General’s response and on Tuesday further entrenched their position stating they are seeking the disclosure of “specific documents” which they believe support their assertion that US authorities conspired to misuse the extraordinary powers of the CBSA in relation to immigration processes to gather evidence and investigate Ms Meng before handing her over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The Crown insists that there was no advance discussion of Ms Meng’s arrest between the CBSA and the RCMP. The CBSA further said that despite their seizure, Ms Meng’s electronic devices were not the subject of search by their agents.
The arrest has heightened tensions between Canada and China. In response to the arrest, China has blocked numerous Canadian imports including canola seeds, pork and beef. Two Canadian citizens convicted of drug trafficking offences have been sentenced to death while a further two have been arrested and charged with engaging in activities endangering state security.
Ms Meng and Huawei have repeatedly denied the charges. Her extradition hearing is scheduled to begin in January 2020.