Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers are contending the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and RCMP covered up some of their communications with each other in the detention and arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer.
According to court filings, the defence counsel has argued the CBSA officers of omitting parts of the plan and detention process in their notes and making misleading statements in documents provided Meng’s counsel.
Meng’s lawyers are also accusing them of working with the RCMP to retrieve information for the FBI “unlawfully”.
B.C. criminal defence lawyer Gary Botting, who specializes in extradition proceedings and was previously part of Meng’s counsel, believes she has a “good chance” of being released this spring before the next scheduled court hearing in June due to the RCMP changing the arrest plan to include CBSA officers conducting a three-hour customs check on Meng.
Meng’s lawyers accuse CBSA officers of “intentionally” failing to take notes of their communications with U.S. law enforcement, failing to take notes of the revised plan briefing with the RCMP where the plan was changed from the RCMP arresting her onboard the plane to the CBSA detaining her for a customs inspection, and failing to take notes on their “advance knowledge” of the arrest warrant ordering for Meng’s “immediate arrest”.
According to records, two RCMP officers were in communication with the Canadian Department of Justice, updating them at least three times over phone calls on the CBSA’s detention of Meng. The defence argues that the RCMP and DOJ were aware of the detention of Meng but did nothing to intervene despite the court order in the warrant calling for her “immediate arrest”.
The defence is also accusing the CBSA officers of failing to take notes of “their unlawful questioning” of Meng about the U.S. indictment, as well as not documenting that they took Meng’s password on a piece of paper passed along to the RCMP.
“It could very well lead to discharge on the grounds of abuse of process by the Canadian authorities and then she would be allowed to go home,” Botting said.
However, Canada, on behalf of the U.S., could appeal the judge’s potential decision to discharge.
“And that’s why the judge will want to be extremely careful in making sure that the assessment is proper. And ultimately if she just wraps that in as the entire package and makes a decision in respect to committal, including all of the evidence that is presented by the United States, and then finds that there’s not dual criminality here because if she’d done the same thing in Canada it wouldn’t have broken the law, largely because we don’t recognize the Iran sanctions or wouldn’t arrest anyone on that basis…” said Botting.
One of the Crown prosecutors involved in the case, Robert Frater, previously argued in court that the actions of the CBSA and RCMP were “not at all sinister”.
“The RCMP and CBSA carried out their duties in accordance with their statutory obligations,” said Frater. “The evidence of a conspiracy is non-existent. Because the conspiracy is non-existent, there was nothing to cover up.”
Meng’s lawyers are saying her Charter rights were violated several times throughout her detention, including the CBSA officers seized her electronic devices to pass along to the RCMP, detaining her three hours before the RCMP arrested her, searching her luggage for reasons outside of the Customs Act, failing to inform her of why she was being detained and her right to a lawyer and “unlawfully compelling her to provide the passcodes” which were then passed along to the RCMP.
Last week Meng Wanzhou’s legal counsel successfully won a disclosure request for more records of communications between Canadian and U.S. authorities, increasing the possibility the Huawei executive could be released due to alleged abuse of due process by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and RCMP, but legal experts believe a U.S. trade deal with China could also put an end to the saga that reached its one year anniversary on Dec. 1.
“Because it is a political issue it would be so easy for [the Americans] to simply say, ‘We’re not going to pursue these charges because of the angst it’s caused internationally,” said Botting.
Last week U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, “Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!”
Many political observers have noted the extradition charges against Meng appear to be political by nature, with Trump confirming as much when he suggested in a tweet last year that Meng’s freedom could be secured if the trade war between the U.S. and China was resolved.
“It would be the perfect opportunity for him to resolve this issue and probably get great pats on the back all around–from China, from Canada, probably the U.S. as well–but there’s a prosecutor down in New York who’s just totally beating the drum, and the same court that has put a few of Trump’s friends away is still anxious to do the same thing to Meng it seems,” said Botting.
U.S. authorities first requested Canada extradite Meng on charges of fraud involving breaking sanctions against Iran.
Canada’s arrest of Meng led to swift retaliation from the Chinese government, which proceeded to arrest former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, both still imprisoned in China, as well as sanctions against Canadian farmers.
The impasse between the two countries has turned Canadian public opinion against China and telecom giant Huawei; according to a recent poll conducted by Angus Reid Institute, the majority of Canadians are against both Huawei helping build the 5G network and Canada increasing trade with China.
Toronto criminal lawyer Christopher Hicks, not involved in Meng’s case, previously told The Post Millennial it looks like due process was breached by the Canadian authorities.
“Never mind if you’re under arrest, if you’re a suspect, and the police are talking to you, they have to tell you that you have your rights,” said Hicks.
“You’re supposed to arrest someone, not sucker them into making statements, or handing over their electronic information.”