Justice lawyer says it was OK to border screen Huawei exec

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Canadian Border Services Agency did not participate in a conspiracy involving the FBI or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police when they detained a senior executive for Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies, a Canadian justice department lawyer told an extradition hearing Wednesday.

Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer who is also the daughter of the company’s founder, at the Vancouver airport on Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of the U.S., which wants her extradited to face fraud charges. The arrest infuriated Beijing, which sees her case as a political move designed to prevent China’s rise.

The U.S. accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It says Meng committed fraud by misleading the HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

Meng’s lawyers claim her extraction should be halted because border officers detained and questioned her without a lawyer, asked questions that benefited U.S. authorities, seized her electronic devices, and put them in special bags to prevent wiping, and compelled her to give up the passcodes before her official arrest.

The defense also alleges the border officers acted as a proxy for the RCMP.

Justice department lawyer Diba Majzub said the Canada Border Services Agency acted within its jurisdiction when intercepting Meng at the airport.

“It wasn’t the FBI talking to the CBSA,” Majzub told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes. “It was a CBSA decision.”

The RCMP understood the CBSA had priority and were content to wait before arresting Meng, said Majzub.

“The RCMP did not ask the CBSA to conduct an examination,” he said. “The RCMP did not suggest lines of questioning or ask the electronics be examined. It is impossible to describe a nefarious motive for the RCMP . . . when they didn’t seek to gain anything from the process.”

Majzub said the CBSA not telling Meng she faced an arrest warrant “is not evidence of abuse of process” and the three-hour delay before the RCMP arrested her “was not unreasonable.”

Meng attended the hearing wearing an electronic monitoring device on her ankle. She followed the proceedings through an translator.

Meng’s lawyers will be back in court next week arguing that the U.S. is exceeding the limits of its jurisdiction by prosecuting a foreign citizen for actions that took place in Hong Kong and that Canada was misled by the U.S. about the strength of its case. The extradition case could take years.

Soon after Meng’s arrest, China arrested Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in apparent retaliation and charged them with spying. Both have remained in custody with limited access to visits by Canadian consular officials.

The two made closed-door court appearances over the last week. Canadian consular officials were barred from attending the proceedings and no verdicts were announced.

Meng remains free on bail in Vancouver and is living in a mansion.

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