British Columbia

Meng Wanzhou wins bid for documents related to Vancouver arrest

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered Canada's attorney general to turn over a trove of documents related to Meng Wanzhou's arrest to the Huawei executive's legal team.

Judge finds 'air of reality' to Huawei executive's claims that U.S., Canadian officials conspired

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou has won a bid for disclosure of documents related to her 2018 arrest at Vancouver International Airport. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered Canada's attorney general to give Meng Wanzhou's lawyers a trove of documents related to the Huawei executive's arrest at Vancouver International Airport last year.

The order follows a two-week hearing in October during which Meng's legal team argued that the additional disclosure could help them prove their client was the victim of a conspiracy between U.S. and Canadian authorities.

Meng's lawyers believe officials with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) used their extraordinary powers to detain and question the Huawei chief financial officer without a lawyer at the behest of the FBI.

In a ruling Tuesday, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes didn't make any findings on the actual merits of the defence claim — but she said Meng's lawyers had raised enough questions to give an "air of reality" to their allegations.

And she said the documentation already provided by the Crown was "strategic in its character yet impoverished in its substance."

Meng was arrested a little more than a year ago on a U.S. extradition warrant during a stopover in Vancouver on her way from Hong Kong to a conference in Argentina.

Border agents seized Meng's phones when she arrived in Vancouver and later passed them on to the RCMP. Her lawyers claim the RCMP shared technical information about the devices with the FBI. (B.C. Supreme Court)

She is accused of misleading banks about Huawei's relationship with a hidden subsidiary, which is accused of attempting to sell U.S. telecommunications equipment in Tehran.

U.S. prosecutors claim Meng's alleged lies put the banks which cleared transactions for Huawei at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The 47-year-old has denied the allegations.

The first phase of the extradition process is set for January with a hearing on the issue of double criminality — the requirement that the allegation at the heart of the request be considered an offence in both Canada and the U.S.

Later in 2020, Meng's lawyers will argue for a stay of proceedings based on what they claim is a violation of Meng's rights during the three hours CBSA officers questioned her before she was officially arrested by RCMP.

The border agents seized Meng's phones and electronic devices and also compelled her to give them the passcodes.

'I cannot rule out the possibility'

During the disclosure hearing, lawyers for the attorney general revealed that the CBSA later mistakenly handed the passcodes for the devices over to the RCMP. 

Meng's lawyers also accused RCMP officers of passing identifying information about the devices over to the FBI — an allegation the Crown denied.

Holmes cited questions about those interactions in her decision to order the release of more documentation.

In her ruling, the judge also had to consider whether a stay might ultimately be warranted if the defence can prove Meng's rights were violated.

"It is not yet clear whether the abuse of process Ms. Meng alleges, if proven, would constitute circumstances serious enough to require a stay of proceedings to protect the integrity of the judicial process," Holmes wrote.

"However, I cannot rule out the possibility that it would."

The defence team was seeking a wide range of documents including documents related to the sharing of information between the RCMP and the FBI and from the offices of the federal minister of justice and the attorney general.

Meng's lawyers were also looking for correspondence between RCMP and U.S. law enforcement as well as a list of any documents withheld or redacted to date.

About the Author

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and mental health issues in the justice system extensively.

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