Canadian Border Official Violated Gag Order in Huawei CFO Extradition Case

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou leaves the British Columbia Supreme Court following a hearing on motions in the U.S. extradition case against her. (Courthouse News photo / Darryl Greer)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CN) — The extradition proceedings for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou hit a speed bump Thursday when Canadian prosecutors told the judge a key witness had spoken to a Department of Justice employee about the case despite a gag order.

Meng continues to fight the U.S. bid to extradite her to face fraud charges in New York. Federal prosecutors say she made efforts on behalf of the Chinese tech firm to mislead HSBC bank about a Huawei subsidiary’s dealings in Iran, which the U.S. claims is a sanctions violation.

At the beginning of Thursday’s hearing, Crown lawyer John Gibb-Carsley told B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that Canada Border Services chief of passenger operations Nicole Goodman had approached a Canadian Justice Department employee after she testified Wednesday, asking about attorney-client privilege. Gibb-Carsley said friends of the court sitting in to assist with the proceedings would have a discussion with Goodman about how she need not be “burdened” with issues of privilege while on the stand.

The hearing resumed an hour later, and Meng’s lawyer Mona Duckett asked if any testimony given Wednesday was misleading or inaccurate.

“Incomplete,” Goodman replied.

“Incomplete to the point where you have misled us about your answer? That is my question. Is it?” Duckett asked.

“I don’t know if it was misleading,” Goodman said. “It was regarding the preparation for court.”

Crown lawyer Diba Mazjub quickly objected, arguing case law clearly supports “litigation privilege” over witness preparation for court. Duckett said she was trying to pin down whether Goodman’s evidence was misleading if she felt “constrained” by issues of attorney-client privilege.

Duckett resumed her cross-examination of Goodman, questioning the border official about whether she disciplined officer Scott Kirkland, who mistakenly gave police a piece of paper containing the passwords for Meng’s electronic devices. Goodman had earlier told the court about Kirkland going “white” in a debriefing meeting among border officials after Meng’s arrest upon realizing the mistake.

“I counseled him and told him that this is a breach, and that’s serious,” Goodman said. “And he understood after our conversation.” The hearing continues Thursday afternoon.

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