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Huawei CFO Dealt Fresh Setback in Fight Against Extradition

Natalie Obiko Pearson
·3 mins read

(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou failed to convince a Canadian judge to grant her access to confidential documents pertaining to her extradition fight.

Meng has pressed for additional disclosure about the circumstances of her arrest at Vancouver’s airport on a U.S. handover request in December 2018. She argues her arrest was unlawful and that her extradition case should be dismissed.

In August, she sought an order from the Supreme Court of British Columbia to force the Canadian government to authorize full access to documents she said had been redacted or withheld arbitrarily. Canada argued that divulging them would violate confidentiality agreements with clients and third parties.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes sided with the prosecution’s assertions of confidentiality over every document except one in a decision released Friday.

The documents were mostly email chains between officials at Canada’s Department of Justice and Canada Border Services Agency around the time of Meng’s arrest. Holmes said she found no suggestion that the confidential communications “show improper conduct by Canadian officials.”

The decision is the latest setback for Meng -- eldest daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei -- who lives under house arrest at a Vancouver mansion she owns. In May, Meng saw her first shot at release quashed when Holmes ruled that her case met a key test of Canada’s extradition law. Three months later, a federal court rejected her bid to access documents withheld on national security grounds.

Legal Strategy

One of Meng’s legal strategies is to show that there was an abuse of process so grave during her arrest that it warrants throwing out her extradition case. She accuses Canadian border agents, police and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation of unlawfully using the pretext of an immigration check to get her to disclose evidence that could be used against her.

The one redaction that Holmes disagreed with was in an email in which a U.S. Department of Justice official asks Janet Henchey, a senior lawyer at Canada’s justice department, about the prospect of obtaining details from Canada’s border agency about Meng’s detention.

Henchey’s response to the U.S. official -- “You would have to have grounds to obtain CBSA records” -- was provided to Meng’s defense, but her other two sentences were redacted. Holmes said those redactions should be lifted.

Earlier in the case, it came to light that Canadian border officials detained Meng for three hours at the airport, seized her devices and passwords, and asked her about Huawei’s business in Iran without telling her why. Unbeknownst to Meng at the time, a U.S. indictment -- still then sealed -- accused her of fraud related to sanctions on Iran. Border agents have said they shared “in error” her device passwords with Canadian police. She was advised of her right to remain silent hours later when police arrested her.

Meng is next scheduled to appear in court from Oct. 26 to 30 at a hearing where witnesses from Canada’s border agency and federal police will testify.

(Updates with details from court decision starting in fourth paragraph)

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