Five things disclosed in latest release of documents in Meng Wanzhou’s case
The Huawei executive was arrested at the Vancouver airport on Dec. 1 last year. She is being sought for extradition to the U.S. to face fraud charges
VANCOUVER – The extradition trial for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou won’t begin until January 2020 but details of the arguments her defence team and Crown attorneys plan to make are already being released. Hundreds of pages of documents were released Monday as part of a hearing in which Meng’s defence team is asking for access to further documentation to prove its case.
Here are some details from the new material:
1) The FBI requested reports from the Canada Border Services Agency after Meng’s detainment.
An employee of the border agency wrote an email on Dec. 4, 2018, to an information-sharing department of the CBSA to advise that the FBI was seeking its reports about the examination of Meng. The FBI request says the documents are covered by a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian agency and it intends to use them to corroborate the information she provided and facilitate upcoming court hearings.
However, the Canadian department replied that the memorandum does not apply and the documents cannot be shared directly. Instead, it said the FBI must make a request under what’s known as a mutual legal assistance treaty, which allows for information sharing between two countries in order to enforce criminal laws.
The border services agency did determine that Meng’s recent travel history was covered and provided it to the FBI. It shows that she passed through Vancouver’s airport seven times in 2018.
2) The FBI no longer wants access to Meng’s electronic devices.
The defence team plans to argue that Canadian officials acted as “agents” of the United States and points to the seizure of Meng’s electronics at the airport and the way they, along with a list of passwords, were passed on to the RCMP as evidence the content was FBI-bound. Lawyer John Gibb-Carsley, who represents the Attorney General of Canada, writes in a letter dated Aug. 1, 2019, to one of Meng’s defence lawyers that the FBI is no longer interested. The Attorney General of Canada wants to return the devices to Meng on the condition that her team accept its assertion that neither the Mounties nor border officials searched them.
“In light of our representations, we would expect that you will not advance the allegation before the court that the devices were searched,” the letter says. “If it is your intention to maintain the allegation, we will need to seek a court order to have the devices forensically analysed to confirm that the devices were not searched.”
Since then, the Attorney General says a forensic report shows the passcodes were never used by the border services agency.
3) Executives at the Canada Border Services Agency discussed a communication strategy around Meng’s detention.
Handwritten notes by Robyn Quinn, assistant to the agency’s vice-president, suggest senior officials considered how to portray events at the airport. The notes identify several areas of concern including the perception that border officials only pulled Meng because of the arrest warrant, whether meeting her on the jetway constituted a detention and whether border officials handed her passwords over to the RCMP. The officials appeared to develop a tone and strategy for talking points, as the notes also include things like “don’t suggest at any point that RCMP was leader,” “we can explain wasn’t detention was processing,” and “be as truthful (plus) responsive as possible.”
4) The list of passcodes that a border official wrote down for Meng’s devices only include her two phones.
Officials confiscated seven of Meng’s electronic devices at the airport and the defence team has highlighted the fact that a border official wrote down Meng’s passwords and passed them, along with the devices, to the RCMP. That note, which the defence team says “has finally been disclosed,” in fact only includes pin codes for her two phones, her Huawei phone number, and a line adding her iPhone number is unknown but is included in her Huawei phone’s contact list. Still, the defence team argues that placing the phones in a special bag that blocks them from remote wiping was a break from procedure and can only indicate they were being preserved for use by the United States.
The Crown says in its written reply to the defence’s request for documents that border officers took her cellphones and placed them into evidence bags and wrote down the passcodes, but did not search the phones. The border agency has legal authority to examine phones and it is common practice for it to request passcodes, the Crown says, and there is no evidence that the RCMP or FBI requested that border services obtain the passcodes.
5) Meng told a border agent about her travel and property ownership.
A border officer wrote in a solemn declaration following an interview with Meng at the airport that she stated she visits Canada two to three times per year. She said she was currently travelling on a 12-day business trip to Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina and France. Stamps in her passport revealed she had been to nearly two dozen countries across the globe.
She told the officer she owned property in multiple countries: two houses in Vancouver, three apartments in London, two houses in Hong Kong and two houses in Shenzen, China. Meng added that although she used to have a People’s Republic of China passport, she relinquished it when she got her Hong Kong passport, and had no status in any other country than Hong Kong.