‘No need’ for lengthy border exam of Meng Wanzhou before her arrest: defence

Defence said there was no good reason for border officials to detain Wanzhou for almost three hours

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who is out on bail and remains under partial house arrest after she was detained last year at the behest of American authorities, leaves her home to attend the third day of a court hearing in Vancouver, on Wednesday September 25, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

The defence team for a Huawei executive whose arrest at Vancouver’s airport sparked a diplomatic crisis between Canada and China says there was no good reason for border officials to detain her for almost three hours before her arrest.

Scott Fenton, a defence lawyer for Meng Wanzhou, told B.C. Supreme Court Wednesday that border officials already knew Meng was facing charges in the United States by the time she got off her flight from Hong Kong.

That means officials also knew that she would be arrested and taken before the courts, that they had no power to remove her and that they could already report her as inadmissible because of the allegations she faces in the United States, he said.

Instead, documents show Meng was held for three hours and a border official questioned her about her business in Iran before she was informed of her arrest and read her rights.

“There was no need for this lengthy examination of the applicant,” Fenton told the court.

He argued the provisional arrest warrant calling for her “immediate” arrest should have taken precedence over a customs and immigration examination.

Meng was arrested Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of the United States, which is seeking her extradition on fraud charges. The U.S. alleges that Meng misrepresented facts to HSBC regarding Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, which put the bank at risk of prosecution for violating sanctions against the country.

Both Meng and Chinese tech giant Huawei have denied any wrongdoing and none of the allegations have been tested in court.

READ MORE: Border officials, RCMP followed law in arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Crown says

Meng’s legal team asked the court this week for further documentation to support its argument that her arrest at Vancouver’s airport was unlawful ahead of her extradition trial, which is scheduled to begin in January.

They narrowed their petition Wednesday at the request of Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes, submitting a list of information that includes documents and phone calls from border services and RCMP officers who met on Nov. 30, the night before Meng’s arrest.

Fenton has said the defence team must convince Holmes that there is an “air of reality” to its allegations, including that Meng was the subject of an abuse of process, in order to compel further disclosure from the Crown.

Canada’s attorney general will begin presenting its response in court Monday. But in accepting the narrowed request, Crown attorney Robert Frater told Holmes they have already been very co-operative in providing requested materials to the defence including notes related to the Nov. 30 meeting.

“They’ve already got, in our position, what there is from that meeting. And now they’re asking you to order that if there’s anything else, we should produce that too,” Frater said.

“We’re happy to receive (the more specific request), we think we can respond to it, but ultimately we may be saying to your ladyship that it’s not really helpful to you in deciding whether the legal standard has been met,” Frater said Wednesday.

Documents show the Crown will argue next week that Canadian officials followed the law when they detained Meng and the defence has no proof to substantiate its “conspiracy theory” that she was illegally arrested.

There’s no evidence to suggest that the RCMP or the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States asked border agents to elicit information from Meng while she was being detained, the Crown documents say.

On Wednesday, Fenton said border official recorded the passwords to her phones and relayed them to RCMP along with her electronic devices. It’s evidence that supports the defence allegation that border officers conducted a ”covert criminal investigation” under the guise of a routine border check, he said.

“There’s strong evidence that supports the air of reality that Ms. Meng was tricked. And she was both unlawfully and unfairly deprived of her constitutional rights,” he told the court.

Meng’s lawyers also argue that the Canada Border Services Agency and RCMP officials made “strategic omissions” in notes they took about the arrest and plan for arrest.

One border officer, who swore in a solemn declaration that he asked Meng whether her company does business in Iran, did not record any notes in the seven hours leading up to the immigration examination that would indicate why it occurred the way it did, Fenton said.

“His solemn declaration and very limited notes similarly make no mention of the arrest warrant and appeared to promote what we respectfully submit is a ‘plausible facade’ that they were actually carrying out a secondary examination,” he said.

Another border official recorded in his notes that a third official “made the decision” that he would escort Meng to the secondary screening area, even though that decision had already allegedly been made by the border agency and RCMP, Fenton argued.

Meng, who is the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of the company’s founder, is free on bail and living in Vancouver.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Border officials, RCMP followed law in arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Crown says

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Prince Rupert’s students are baking it all the way to the bank

Charles Hays band students serve up goodies to fund summer trip

Two temporary voyages between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan added to AMHS schedule

October and November will see service to Alaska during the last week of each month

Police still looking for more info on missing mushroom picker in Nass Valley

65-year-old Greg Agnew was reported missing on Sept. 30

Conrad is giving thanks

Conrad students celebrate the holiday with a special meal

Last house standing from Third Ave. fire demolished

Leftover debris has also been cleared from the site

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Sentencing date set for Vancouver Island father convicted of killing his two daughters

Andrew Berry was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder last month

B.C. woman finds mysterious coin among Grandma’s collection

Grandmother died when she was very young and her past is not well known to her mother

Advanced polls saw 4.7 million Canadians cast their ballots in the 2019 federal election

That’s a 29 per cent increase from advance polling in 2015

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

Pot use admission at U.S. border snagging Canadian boomers, says lawyer

A waiver to enter the U.S. can cost $2,000 and isn’t a guarantee

Health concerns over vaping cast haze over Canadian cannabis market expansion

More than 1,000 people in the United States, and a handful in Canada, have developed a lung ailment

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Most Read