British Columbia

RCMP and CBSA say Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's phones never examined as claimed

Lawyers for the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency claim agents have never examined electronic devices belonging to Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

Authorities deny breaching Huawei executive's rights during December arrest at Vancouver airport

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is facing possible extradition to the United States. The RCMP and CBSA claim her Charter rights were never violated. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Lawyers for the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency claim agents have never examined electronic devices belonging to Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

Both agencies filed a joint response in B.C. Supreme Court Monday to Meng's civil suit claiming that her Charter rights were violated when she was detained and arrested at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, 2018.

The court documents name two border services officers who searched Meng's luggage and seized her phones after she disembarked a flight from Hong Kong.

But they claim that while one officer wrote down the phone numbers and passwords, he didn't examine the contents of the electronic devices. And nor — allegedly — did police.

"The RCMP did not receive any information that the CBSA obtained in the course of the immigration and customs examinations of the plaintiff other than the piece of paper containing the phone numbers and passwords for the phones," the response to the civil claim reads.

"At no time has any RCMP officer examined the contents of the electronic devices or the phones."

Charges of conspiracy, fraud, obstruction

Meng was arrested at YVR at the behest of the United States, where prosecutors want her to stand trial for allegedly violating sanctions against Iran.

The 47-year-old is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.

She is charged, along with the company, with 13 counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction related to an alleged scheme to circumvent sanctions against Iran through a shadow company in Tehran that prosecutors say was actually controlled by Huawei.

Meng Wanzhou has two homes in Vancouver, including this $15 million mansion in Shaughnessy where she is currently living. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Meng, who was released on $10 million bail in December, is currently guarded around the clock. She pays the security bill and recently moved from her home in Dunbar to a second house in Shaughnessy where she is living while she awaits an extradition hearing.

She filed a civil suit against the CBSA and the RCMP in March, claiming her Charter rights were violated.

She claims the two agencies colluded with American officials to have her detained for three hours and examined her phones without informing her of the reason for her detention, before she was officially arrested.

'She intended to visit her house'

But in their response, the RCMP and the CBSA claim they did everything by the book, flagging Meng for secondary inspection and then searching her luggage while asking her about the purpose of her visit to Canada.

Meng's trip to Vancouver has previously been described as a brief layover on her way to Mexico City, but according to the response, she intended to clear customs.

The RCMP and CBSA claim Meng's electronic devices were seized but not searched on her detention at Vancouver's airport in December, 2018. (Alexander Bibik/Reuters)

"The plaintiff indicated that she was in transit to Mexico but that during her layover, she intended to visit her house in Vancouver to drop off some belongings," the response reads.

"Since the plaintiff was intending to visit her house in Vancouver, the plaintiff proceeded to the customs hall to claim her luggage."

The agencies claim that Meng never asked to speak with a lawyer during the time in CBSA custody before she was arrested. They also claim that the three hour wait was not unusual to clear secondary inspection on a Saturday.

'So that data could not be remotely deleted'

The response to the civil suit also claims neither the RCMP nor the U.S. Department of Justice requested or suggested that the CBSA officers take any course of action or line of questioning during Meng's detention.

But they claim they did ask the CBSA to "protect any mobile phones that the plaintiff might have by placing them in bags, which the RCMP supplied to the CBSA, so that any data could not be remotely deleted."

Meng's legal team are set to make a brief appearance in B.C. Supreme Court this Thursday in preparation for a longer set of procedures in September aimed at arguing for more disclosure around her detention and arrest.

Her lawyers have indicated that they plan to ask a judge to dismiss the entire proceedings as a result of alleged breaches of her rights. They also plan to argue that she is the victim of political interference by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Meng is not expected to attend the hearing this week.

In response to her civil claim, the RCMP and the CBSA say Meng's allegations against them are without merit. They are asking for her civil suit to be dismissed with costs.

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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