Meng Wanzhou wins right to more documents involving arrest at Vancouver airport
The Huawei executive's arrest has sparked a diplomatic crisis between China and Canada
VANCOUVER – Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has won an application for more documents to be disclosed as she alleges she faced an abuse of process during her arrest at Vancouver’s airport last year.
Justice Heather Holmes of the British Columbia Supreme Court says Meng has met the test for further disclosure but her ruling doesn’t predict or imply that the claim of an abuse of process will succeed in the extradition case.
“The test screens out applications to support abuse of process claims with no established air of reality to them, but it is not a demanding one,” Holmes wrote in the decision published online Tuesday.
Meng was detained on Dec. 1, 2018, for three hours by border guards who seized her electronic devices and passcodes before handing them to the RCMP when the police force executed a provisional arrest warrant.
The United States is seeking Meng’s extradition on fraud charges related to the alleged violation of sanctions against Iran. Meng and Huawei deny the allegations and the first part of her extradition trial is scheduled to begin in January.
There are also a number of hearing dates set in June, when her lawyers plan to argue that the Canada Border Services Agency, the RCMP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation violated her rights.
The lawyers allege she was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated as part of a plan between Canadian and American authorities to have border officers misuse their customs and immigration powers to covertly collect evidence for the FBI.
The allegations have not been proven in court. But at a hearing earlier this fall, defence lawyers argued there was enough of an “air of reality” to the claims for further documents to be disclosed.
In her ruling granting the defence’s request, Holmes says the Crown and defence largely see eye to eye on the main events leading up to and during Meng’s arrest. However, she says they diverge significantly on the inferences they draw from those events.
“In certain areas where the parties rely on competing inferences from notable gaps in the evidence, I view the evidence tendered by the Attorney General to address those gaps as strategic in its character yet impoverished in its substance,” she wrote.
For example, documents released by the Attorney General so far don’t explain why border guards made what the Crown has characterized as an “error” of illegally turning over Meng’s passcodes to the RCMP, or when and how that mistake came to light, she says.
The documents also don’t adequately rebut the defence’s allegation that RCMP improperly sent serial numbers and other identifying details of Meng’s devices to the FBI, Holmes says. She describes the Attorney General’s evidence on this point as “similarly incomplete in its substance, despite its volume relative to the issue.”
The judge grants Meng access to numerous documents including any related to meetings or telephone calls on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2018, about the co-ordination of her arrest.
Meng also won access to correspondence between Nov. 28 and Dec. 5, 2018, between RCMP and U.S. law enforcement members related to her arrest, and a list describing any documents withheld or redacted to date, stating the reason for the redaction.
Meng’s arrest has sparked a diplomatic crisis between China and Canada.
Beijing was seen to be retaliating when it detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been in custody for a year without seeing their families or a lawyer. On Tuesday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said the cases have been sent “for investigation and prosecution” on national security allegations.