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HomeBusinessMeng Wanzhou was “minimally inconvenienced,” says top Canadian government lawyer

Meng Wanzhou was “minimally inconvenienced,” says top Canadian government lawyer

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Bob Mackin

The head lawyer for Canada’s Department of Justice said in a Vancouver courtroom on Aug. 10 that Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is no victim.

Robert Frater (Government of Canada)

Meng’s lawyers want B.C. Supreme Court Assoc. Chief Justice Heather Holmes to stay proceedings and let her return to China. They say her rights were abused by Canadian police when they arrested her at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018. They also claim she suffered prejudice when then-U.S. President Donald Trump suggested she could be a bargaining chip in trade negotiations with China.

The defense application was a last-ditch effort before the actual extradition hearing is scheduled finally to begin Aug. 11.

Crown lawyer Robert Frater refuted the defence arguments and called Meng a “sophisticated traveler who was, at most, minimally inconvenienced.

“Many travellers are inconvenienced by having to deal with officials at the airport.”

Meng spent three hours in limbo on Dec. 1, 2018, before she was finally interviewed by customs officers after flying from Hong Kong.

Instead of flying onward to Mexico City, an RCMP officer took her to the Richmond detachment lockup and booked her. A warrant had been issued for her arrest the previous day, because the U.S. government wants to try her in New York on fraud charges.

Frater conceded that the sharing of Meng’s mobile device passwords between Canada Border Services Agency officers and RCMP officers was the only hiccup. However, he reminded the court, the passwords were not used to access the information on her devices.

Frater, meanwhile, said that Meng’s lawyers “greatly overstate the former president’s words. There was nothing approaching a threat in those words, no words like ransom or bargaining chip have been used by requesting state officials.”

Said Frater to Holmes: “Your job is to look at the actual words, not an emotive recasting of the original language.”

Meng Wanzhou’s CBSA declaration card mugshot on Dec. 1, 2018 (BC Courts)

In March, Meng’s lawyer Richard Peck said Trump “cast a pall” over the proceedings and reduced Meng “from a human being to a chattel.” Peck described Meng as a bargaining chip or pawn in the “economic contest” between the U.S. and China.

The hearing came the morning after the latest in the trans-Pacific, geopolitical chess match. A court in China upheld a death sentence for 2018-convicted drug smuggler Robert Schellenberg of Abbotsford, B.C. The court also said it would soon announce a verdict in the case of Michael Spavor, one of two Canadians jailed and tried for spying in retaliation for Meng’s arrest.

Meng, however, lives in a Vancouver mansion under a nightly curfew and round-the-clock electronic monitoring. She is otherwise free to visit restaurants, parks and shop in boutiques under supervision from a court-appointed security company.

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