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Meng Wanzhou back in BC court for testimony

By RENA LI in Toronto | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-10-28 00:22

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada October 26, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

A five-day evidentiary hearing in British Columbia Supreme Court is scheduled for this week in the extradition case of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd executive Meng Wanzhou. Meng and her defense will attend the hearing and challenge whether her arrest and detention were conducted lawfully.

During the five-day cross-examination of witness, Meng's lawyers will probe the extent to which the Trump administration directed officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to engage in a "deceptive and improper" search, thereby violating a court order and Meng's Charter rights, according to a statement issued by Huawei Canada on Monday.

RCMP and CBSA officials, who detained Meng at Vancouver's airport on Dec 1, 2018, at the behest of the United States, are asked to appear in court to give evidence for the first time. Meng's lawyers will have a chance to question police and customs agents about whether they and the US authorities conspired to gather evidence against her.

Meng, the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom giant, is accused of misrepresenting Huawei's relationship with Skycom in a PowerPoint presentation to HSBC in 2013, and putting the bank at risk of violating US sanctions against Iran, which Meng has denied.

Meng's lawyers have argued that Canadian authorities improperly communicated with their American counterparts, including allegedly sharing identifying details about her electronic devices, which could have been used to extract information for Meng's prosecution.

According to documents previously filed with the court, when Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport, CBSA officers seized her electronic devices and placed them in bags provided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. They also asked Meng for the passcodes, which they then passed on to the RCMP allegedly by mistake, a fact that only emerged in court.

Meng's lawyers claim that the FBI wanted the CBSA to use the agency's extraordinary powers to question Meng "without a lawyer", testimony that some legal experts said could be a "game-changer".

In addition to the claim of abuse of process based on her arrest, Meng's lawyers are also arguing that the United States misled Canadian officials in its summary of allegations made against her.

According to the Justice Department, the hearing on abuse-of-process arguments is scheduled for Feb 16 to March 5, 2021.

A final decision on extradition will be expected in April 2021. Observers said the case could make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. If the judge decides to extradite Meng to the United States, Justice Minister David Lametti also would have a chance to weigh in on the final decision.

Meng's arrest has strained relations between Canada and China, and the relationship has become increasingly volatile even at the occasion of 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Canada Senator Yuen Pau Woo, who is also a senior fellow at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia, said there is a solution that is consistent with the rule of law and justice system that allows for the resolution of Meng's case.

"It's not one that the current government wants to take, but it is a solution that would be consistent with our rule of law," Woo said at a Canada-China economic forum on the day recognizing the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations.

"We're just not grasping it. … It's within the rule of law for the Minister of Justice to declare, based on evidence, that the detention was ultra vires (beyond legal authority) and to say that she should be free, and to rule her free. It's not against the rule of law," Woo continued. "We've boxed ourselves into an argument that if the Minister of Justice were to do that, somehow, it's against the rule of law. No, it isn't. You may disagree with the decision, but it's within the rule of law."

"Huawei trusts the Canadian judicial system to uphold integrity and ensure justice for all. Huawei has always had great confidence in Meng Wanzhou's innocence. We will continue to support her in unveiling the truth behind the abuse of her rights," Huawei's statement read.

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