VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CN) --- Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s defense team came out swinging Wednesday, accusing Canadian authorities of a “pattern of misconduct” that put the desires of the FBI above Meng’s rights in a way that taints the fairness of the U.S. extradition bid for the Chinese telecom executive.
Defense lawyer Tony Paisana told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that officers with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canada Border Services Agency showed “flagrant disregard” for their duties and “repeatedly breached” Meng’s rights under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“When Ms. Meng arrived at the airport on Dec. 1, the RCMP and the CBSA had a duty to her like any other traveler. They had a duty to act honorably and with transparency, to be accountable, take heed of her charter rights and not engage in any subterfuge or dishonest conduct,” Paisana argued. “The authorities failed in these duties, at times miserably.”
Meng faces fraud charges --- which she denies --- in New York related to a now-infamous meeting in 2013 at a Hong Kong tearoom where U.S. authorities claim she misled an HSBC bank executive about Huawei’s dealings with a subsidiary in Iran known as Skycom in violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran
Previously, the court heard from nearly a dozen witnesses, including from police and border guards directly and tangentially involved with Meng’s initial detention and subsequent arrest. A sticking point from the outset for the defense has been that the provisional arrest warrant issued for Meng called for her “immediate” arrest. According to Paisana, that didn't happen because Canadian authorities concocted a “jurisdictional stalemate” between police and border officials at Vancouver airport.
“Both Canadian and American authorities engaged in misconduct that spanned the spectrum from negligence and casual indifference to Ms. Meng’s rights and their own obligations to the court, to deliberate and flagrant disregard of those responsibilities,” Paisana said. “Examples of this misconduct include, but aren’t limited to, deliberately ignoring this court’s order to immediately arrest Ms. Meng in order to facilitate an investigation of her, abusing statutory powers for the improper purpose of criminally investigating Ms. Meng including the compulsion of her passcodes and the subsequent sharing with the RCMP.”
Moreover, Paisana said Canadian officials crafted notes to “obscure the true nature of what had transpired with Ms. Meng, conduct in line with a later direction from a senior CBSA official to stop creating records for fear that they may be disclosed to Ms. Meng or the public.”
The court also heard that a retired staff sergeant with the RCMP had refused to testify, which Paisana called “an unprecedented act even for a retired officer.”
“What we say animated much of this misconduct was an overarching preoccupation on the part of Canadian authorities to appease and otherwise comply with demands received from the FBI,” Paisana told Holmes. “At nearly every turn, the authorities prioritized U.S. requests over Ms. Meng’s rights and their own obligations to the court and when confronted with these issues, they tried to explain away their misconduct as a mistake or a product of their unique circumstances.”
Paisana said that when confronted in court by Meng’s defense lawyers, “many of the officers provided less than truthful testimony … sometimes bordering on the absurd.”
He took the court through past testimony regarding how police had “safety concerns” about arresting Meng on the plane, claiming she may have knives or employed a countersurveillance team. He also explained away Meng’s reasons for having multiple passports, lampooning the notion that she was some “special agent” who could get new passport on a whim.
Meng's defense will continue making their abuse of process arguments Thursday, but the Attorney General of Canada has filed a brief denying any misconduct or conspiracy occurred.
“The evidence shows the opposite. U.S. officials made lawful requests of Canada, acted within the boundaries of the law, and did not seek to direct or influence the actions of Canadian agencies,” the brief states. “The RCMP was transparent with the court in seeking an arrest warrant, exercised appropriate discretion in executing that warrant at the port of entry, and did not share information inappropriately with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).”
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