Meng Wanzhou suffered only temporary inconvenience and her rights were respected when she was arrested at Vancouver International Airport, a lawyer for the Canadian government told B.C. Supreme Court on Sept. 30.
Robert Frater was replying to submissions last week by what he called Meng’s “dream team.” Her lawyers allege the Huawei executive was subject to illegal arrest and interrogation last Dec. 1. Canadian Border Services Agency detained Meng on a layover between Hong Kong and Mexico. After about three hours, RCMP officers arrested her on a warrant requested by the United States, which wants her extradited to face charges of fraud.
“She has been assisted in this motion by a legal dream team of five lawyers who have left no stone unturned, maybe even the pebbles under the stones they’ve looked at as well,” Frater said before Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes.
Frater aimed to debunk the defence team’s “covert criminal investigation” theory and contest what he called their fishing expedition for more evidence.
“It was hardly covert, since various activities were videotaped, audio taped and was the subject of notes,” he said. “If it were an investigation it produced paltry results.”
Meng gave two statements that he said did not remotely prejudice her rights. Her electronic devices and passwords were seized, but they were kept safely and not searched by either CBSA or RCMP. So they were not shared with the FBI.
“Both RCMP and CBSA carried out their duties in accordance with their statutory obligations, the evidence of the conspiracy was non-existent, because the conspiracy was non-existent,” Frater said. “There was nothing to cover up.”
Frater called the RCMP’s activities entirely proper because officers executed the arrest warrant immediately after CBSA was finished with its statutory obligations. Frater said the email that Meng’s lawyers accessed between Canadian and American officials was innocuous.
“Extradition is a process that requires state-to-state communications, it can’t come as any surprise of evidence of talking from lawyer to lawyer, from lawyer to investigative agency or from one investigative agency to another investigative agency,” Frater said. “It’s a necessity, not a suspicious circumstance.”
Frater argued that the Canadian government disclosed more than the legal minimum of evidence to Meng’s lawyers, including some documents that were privileged.
“Their annoyance is the same sense of grievance that many citizens feel when the government fails to produce evidence that substantiates their conspiracy theory,” he said. “Giving them all of what they’ve got and given them so far hasn’t advanced their case.”
Frater was interrupted by Holmes, who wondered about the purpose of CBSA asking Meng if her company sold products in the United States and whether it had done business in Iran. Frater said CBSA is entitled to ask questions related to criminality and national security. Holmes wondered what would have happened if Meng had hypothetically answered yes to questions about the alleged defrauding of banks.
Frater said a decision would have been made about her inadmissibility to Canada.
“These are all questions about protecting the border, they’re empowered to ask questions about who gets in and who doesn’t,” he said.
The current hearing about evidence disclosure continues is expected to end this week. The actual extradition hearing and defence applications to quash it begin in January.
Meng is living in her Shaughnessy mansion on $10 million bail with a curfew and a GPS monitor on her ankle, to ensure she does not travel near the airport.
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