Huawei Exec Meng Wanzhou Sues Canada Over Airport Arrest

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CN) – Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has sued the Canadian government, claiming law enforcement officials violated her constitutional rights by arresting, detaining and interrogating her unlawfully “under the guise of a routine customs or immigration related examination” at Vancouver International Airport this past December. 

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou arrives at a parole office with a security guard in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

On Friday, the same day Canada announced it would begin formal extradition proceedings for Meng, lawyers for the embattled tech executive filed a notice of civil claim in British Columbia Supreme Court seeking damages for misfeasance in public office and unlawful detention against the Attorney General of Canada, three unnamed officers with the Canada Border Services Agency, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Winston Yep, the police officer whose affidavit set things in motion for Meng’s arrest under a provisional arrest warrant.

Meng claims officers executing provisional arrest warrants are required to “among other things, inform the plaintiff of her right to know the reason for her arrest, of her right to retain legal counsel, and to afford her an opportunity to retain and instruct legal counsel without delay. The plaintiff also has the right to silence upon execution of the provisional arrest warrant. Peace officers executing the provisional arrest warrant have no power to compel information from the subject of the arrest”

However, she says the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the U.S. Department of Justice arranged for the Canada Border Services Agency “to detain, search and interrogate the plaintiff upon her arrival at YVR, without arresting her, under the guise of a routine customs or immigration related examination and to then use that opportunity to unlawfully compel her to provide evidence and information.” YVR is the airport code for Vancouver International.

She claims it was “both significant and deliberate” for border agents to detain her under the “false pretense” of a customs or immigration examination “to avoid affording the plaintiff her charter rights on her arrival at YVR by immediately arresting her.” 

Instead, Meng was apprehended by border officials as she walked up a jetway and whisked away to an examination area where she says officials illegally searched her luggage and seized her electronic devices including two cellphones, an iPad and a personal computer. After demanding the passwords, “the CBSA officers unlawfully opened and viewed the contents of the seized devices in violation of the plaintiff’s right to privacy.”

Meng also claims police “intentionally delayed the arrest for the purpose of allowing the unlawful YVR detention which culminated in the unlawful detention, search and interrogation of the plaintiff by the CBSA officers under the false pretense of a routine border check of a foreign traveler.”

Howard Mickelson and Alan Doolittle, Meng’s lawyers on the file, shared the complaint with media Sunday with an accompanying statement.

“As the claim speaks for itself and the matter is now before the courts, no further comments are necessary or appropriate at this time,” they wrote.

Meng seeks unspecified damages for breach of her charter rights, misfeasance in public office, and breach of privacy. She is due back in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on March 6.

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