A B.C. Supreme Court judge has denied Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s argument for an immediate dismissal of her extradition case, but has allowed parts of her argument that the crown wanted blocked to be heard in court.
In her ruling on Oct. 28, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes wrote that Meng’s assertion that the United States misrepresented evidence of alleged fraud in its formal request to Canada for her extradition has an “air of reality.”
The judge also agreed that Meng was entitled to introduce some additional evidence in the case record “to a limited extent.”
Meng, 48, was arrested by Canadian police on a U.S. warrant in December 2018 while on a layover in Vancouver, bound for Mexico.
The United States is charging her with bank fraud, accusing her of misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
Soon after Meng’s arrest, Beijing issued strongly worded warnings to Canada demanding her release, and arbitrarily arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in China, later charging them with espionage.
Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting the charges from Vancouver, where she is under house arrest at one of her mansions.
Commenting on the development, David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, said on Twitter that China has “kidnapped” Kovrig and Spavor and kept them in imprisonment “in conditions amounting to torture,” but Canada “is giving an impeccably fair hearing to a woman who’s free to come and go from her mansion.”
Just to remind: China has kidnapped 2 Canadians, imprisoned them in conditions amounting to torture, denied them any form of help or hope, because we're giving an impeccably fair hearing to a woman who's free to come and go from her mansion https://t.co/DsQZSHoCic
— David Mulroney (@David_Mulroney) October 30, 2020
A PowerPoint presentation that Meng gave to a HSBC banker in Hong Kong in 2013 showing Huawei’s relationship to Skycom Tech Co. Ltd.—a firm that operated in Iran—has been cited by the United States as key evidence against her.
Holmes agreed with Meng that the U.S. request for extradition should have included certain statements from the PowerPoint that add “further precision” to Meng’s statements about Huawei’s business relationship with Skycom in Iran.
Holmes flagged one example of potential U.S. misrepresentation of evidence, pointing out that it did not include the phrase “Huawei[’s] engagement with Skycom is normal and controllable business cooperation, and this will not change in the future.”
“A similar statement is included earlier in the summary, but that statement omitted the word ‘controllable’, reading, ‘Huawei’s engagement with Skycom is normal business cooperation,’” Holmes said.
Although Holmes agreed that Meng’s arguments were not strong enough to warrant immediate dismissal of the case, she said they “may be capable of doing so when considered together with allegations from the first or second branches,” referring to other allegations of abuses of process Meng has put forward.
During the witness testimony on Oct. 29, Scott Kirkland, an officer with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) told the court that the impending arrival of Meng at a Canadian airport two years ago meant discussions about the best way to apprehend her had to be cut short.
Kirkland had previously told the court he was worried about allegations of civil rights violations if the agency intercepted and interviewed Meng before her arrest by Canadian police.
But he did not bring up this concern with others, in part because they had less than an hour before Meng’s flight landed to decide how to handle her interception.
The testimony focused on the sequence of events during the border agency’s inspection of Meng. The defence suggested that it was improper for Kirkland to have written down her cell phone passcodes on a piece of paper rather than only in his notebook, but he maintained that it is standard procedure.
Meng’s lawyers have argued that abuses of process occurred in the nearly three hours between when CBSA intercepted her and the RCMP arrested her, during which she had no legal representation.
RCMP Constable Winston Yep, who arrested her, was the first witness in the week-long testimony. Yep insisted the RCMP stayed in its lane and did not direct the CBSA in its investigation of Meng.
Canadian government prosecutors have tried to prove that Meng’s arrest was by the book, and any lapses in due process should not impact the validity of her extradition.
The witness testimony of Meng’s extradition case is scheduled to conclude on Oct. 30. Defence lawyers will finish their questioning of Kirkland, and one more witness will be heard after his cross-examination.
Meng’s extradition hearings are scheduled to wrap up in April 2021, although the potential for appeals means the case could drag on for years.
With files from Reuters