Any errors in arrest of Huawei CFO were technical, Canadian government tells court
By Evan Duggan
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Any errors in the arrest of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada last December were technical in nature and do not meet the requirements to suspend her extradition proceedings to the United States, government lawyers said in court on Wednesday.
Meng, 47, is charged in the United States with bank fraud and she is accused of misleading HSBC Holdings PLC bank about Huawei's business in Iran, which is under U.S. sanctions. Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition.
Lawyers for Canada's attorney general wrapped up their oral arguments on behalf of the United States in a British Columbia courtroom on Wednesday. Meng's lawyers, who made their initial arguments last week, are set to return to court on Thursday to present their response.
Meng's lawyers are demanding emails, notes and other records from the Canadian government, arguing that they would support their case that Meng's rights were violated before her arrest at a Vancouver airport on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States.
If Canadian officials abused their authority, her lawyers say, the extradition proceedings should be halted.
Meng's defense, in their application for additional disclosure, have tried to create a narrative of a grand conspiracy, public prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley said in court.
"Never let the truth get in the way of a good story," he added.
Gibb-Carsley said communications on Nov. 30 between members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) show there was no plan of action involving the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) until the following day.
"In order to have a conspiracy, you need to have conspirators,” Gibb-Carsley said. "You need to have a meeting of the minds."
In a document submitted to the court, CBSA admitted making an "error" while sharing passcodes of phones belonging to Meng with Canadian federal police.
The passcodes were provided in error and could not be "disclosed as evidence nor used to access any of Meng's devices," according to the document.
It says that the RCMP confirmed that they did not access the devices, and do not intend to access the devices at any time as it was "not their investigation."
British Columbia Supreme Court judge Heather J. Holmes quizzed government lawyers on why Canadian border guards would seize and seal Meng's phones in advance of her arrest without reviewing the contents of the phones.
Meng attended court, taking notes continuously while seated next to an interpreter.
Gibb-Carsley said the CBSA had the authority to seize Meng's devices and seal them in mylar bags to protect them from remote wiping, but the border guards did not examine the contents of the phones before providing them to RCMP arresting officers.
He also said the additional disclosure that Meng's defense is seeking would not help their case and would only complicate the process.
Meng's lawyers argued last week that RCMP's plans changed for her arrest after a meeting between border and police officials, although the reasons for the change were not clear and, they said, resulted in Meng's constitutional rights being violated.
Gibb-Carsley said the RCMP had the right to delay arresting Meng until after she was questioned by CBSA upon her arrival at Vancouver’s airport.
The extradition proceeding itself is scheduled to begin in January and experts say legal wrangling could go on for years.
(Reporting by Evan Duggan in Vancouver; Writing by Denny Thomas; Editing by Giles Elgood and Grant McCool)