The RCMP officer who took custody of Meng Wanzhou’s electronic devices when she was arrested in 2018 said he did not render passcodes to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Const. Gurvinder Dhaliwal told Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley during the court hearing on Nov. 23 that he did not give identification information on Meng’s laptop and phones to the FBI, and neither did any of his RCMP colleagues.
Dhaliwal, who served as “exhibits officer” in the case, was in charge of documenting and securing the items taken from the Huawei chief financial officer on the day of her arrest.
Dhaliwal testified that U.S. officials asked for Meng’s electronic devices to be placed in special bags to prevent data from being erased remotely. He said a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer later passed him a piece of paper recording the passcodes, which he stored with the devices without further considerations.
“I didn’t even think about it, I just put them with the phones and I thought, this is her phones and these passcodes belong to her phones and eventually these phones and these belongings would go back to her once the process is complete,” said Dhaliwal at the B.C. Supreme Court.
After Meng was arrested, the case was transferred to the financial integrity branch of the RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit.
Meng was arrested on a warrant issued by a New York court, which sought to extradite her to the United States on charges of bank fraud. U.S. authorities alleged that Meng lied to HSBC about the business dealing of Huawei Technologies to obtain financing, which exposed the bank to risks of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.
Meng has denied the allegations.
Instead, defence lawyers are collecting evidence to support their argument that the U.S. and Canadian authorities used the CBSA to question Meng and delayed her immediate arrest as requested in the warrant. They claimed that the evidence-gathering was an “abuse of process” and a violation of her rights, and therefore the U.S. request for Meng’s extradition should be overturned.
Dhaliwal told the evidentiary hearing that RCMP Sgt. Ben Chang, who has refused to testify on the case, notified him that the United States asked for certain information on Meng’s devices, including electronic serial numbers. But Dhaliwal said he was never asked to use the passcodes to access and search the devices.
Dhaliwal is among the 10 RCMP and CBSA officers to testify on Meng’s extradition case. The hearings are set to wrap up in 2021.