Huawei CFO wins right to get more documents in extradition fight

Meng Wanzhou was detained in December last year. (File pic)

VANCOUVER: Huawei Technologies Co Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will get access to documents detailing the circumstances of her arrest in Canada at the request of the US, where she is sought on wire fraud and conspiracy charges.

Meng claims she needs the documents to show there was an abuse of process in her fight against the extradition.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Tuesday ordered the Canadian government, police and border agency to provide Meng’s defence with records about the planning and execution of her arrest at Vancouver’s airport on Dec 1, 2018. Among the disclosures sought by her defence are:

  • records of meetings and phone calls to coordinate her arrest
  • updates that were sent to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Canada’s Department of Justice during her arrest
  • what information was shared while she was being questioned by border officials
  • correspondence between Canadian and US law enforcement between Nov 28 and Dec 5, 2018

During a two-week stretch of hearings that ended in early October, Meng’s lawyers had exposed cracks in the way Canada handled her arrest – including an admission from border officials that they “in error” shared her device passwords with police – putting the prosecution on the back foot.

Her defence alleges that the Canada Border Services Agency, police and FBI unlawfully used the pretext of an immigration check to get Meng to disclose evidence that could be used against her.

In the ruling, Holmes said the order “does not predict or imply that Ms Meng’s claim of abuse of process will ultimately succeed.”

She said it’s also not yet clear whether the alleged abuse of process, if proven, would be serious enough to require a stay of proceedings.

Such a stay is only granted “in the rarest of cases,” she said.

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

The ruling also supported some arguments from Meng’s defence that there have been notable gaps in the evidence provided so far.

“I view the evidence tendered by the Attorney-General to address those gaps as strategic in its character yet impoverished in its substance,” the judge said, noting that Canada has left “largely unexplained” why border officials turned over Meng’s passwords to the police, contrary to law, and when and how the mistake came to light.

Meng’s defence has inferred that Canadian police sent details about Meng’s devices to the FBI.

The prosecution has been “similarly incomplete” in rebutting those inferences, Holmes wrote.

“This specific and notable feature of the evidence, considered in light of the body of evidence as a whole, raises questions beyond the frivolous or speculative about the chain of events,” the judge said.

For Meng, the victory is the first step in what’s likely to be a long battle with the odds stacked against her.

Of the 798 US extradition requests received since 2008, Canada has only refused or discharged eight, according to Canada’s Department of Justice.

Meng is set to appear in court on Jan 20 for the formal start of extradition hearings.