VANCOUVER/TORONTO (Reuters) – Huawei Technologies Co Ltd lawyers resumed witness testimony in a Vancouver court on Tuesday, pushing a Canadian federal police officer to explain why the border security officials intercepted the company’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou before the federal police arrested her.
Huawei’s legal team took the floor on the second day of the hearings in the British Columbia Supreme Court, where Meng is fighting her extradition case to the United States.
The five days of scheduled hearings will focus on allegations by her lawyers of abuses of process committed by Canadian and U.S. authorities during her arrest in December 2018 at the Vancouver International Airport.
Meng, 48, is facing charges in the United States of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s [HWT.UL] business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanction laws.
She has claimed innocence but remains under house arrest in her Vancouver home, located in an upscale neighborhood of the Pacific coastal city, for the duration of the trial.
Meng was questioned for three hours by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers without any legal representation and her electronic devices were seized before RCMP officials arrested her, according to court documents.
On Tuesday, Meng’s lawyer Richard Peck went over a series of text messages, and emails that Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Constable Winston Yep sent and received before arresting Meng, as well as the notes Yep took throughout the day in his notebook.
Specifically, he presented Yep with an email where the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said to the RCMP that the “best way to ensure CBSA to interject” is to know Meng’s name and flight details ahead of her arrival.
Meng’s lawyers have previously alleged that Canadian authorities improperly communicated with their U.S. counterparts during her arrest, including sharing identifying details about her electronic devices.
Canada has denied this and provided affidavits from members of RCMP who were involved in Meng’s arrest.
Meng arrived in court on Tuesday, accompanied by her translator. She spoke with Chinese consular officials before seating herself in the courtroom.
Her lawyers’ questions build on themes from Monday, when prosecutors for the Canadian government questioned Yep about how the decision was made to allow the CBSA to intercept Meng before the RCMP arrested her.
Meng’s lawyers have argued that Canadian and American authorities made this decision because CBSA officers have special privileges in searching and investigating individuals crossing Canada’s borders.
They strove on Monday to highlight lapses of due process during Meng’s arrest, including Yep’s failure to promptly complete a chronological account of the extradition as required by Canadian extradition law.
Although Yep, under Peck’s questioning, acknowledged it was considered “a possibility” for the RCMP to arrest Meng while her plane was on the tarmac, he insisted the police did not want to intrude on the CBSA’s jurisdiction.
“It could have been just as easy for you to arrest her as soon as she got off the plane, hand her over to the CBSA…then take her,” Peck said. “That way she’d have her rights.”
Meng’s arrest triggered an ongoing chill in diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing. Soon after her detention, China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on espionage charges in what was widely seen as retaliation.
The trial is scheduled to wrap up in April 2021, although the potential for appeals means the case could drag on for years through the Canadian justice system.
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