VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CN) – Lawyers for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou denied the Canadian government’s claim Tuesday that discovery requests on the telecom executive’s detention and arrest amount to a “fishing expedition.”
Meng’s lawyer Scott Fenton walked the court through case law his team is relying on as he outlined what he says were abuses of process by border agents and police as they coordinated Meng’s arrest.
Fenton said courts have ruled agencies cannot use a “nominally lawful aim” as cover or “plausible facade” of an unlawful aim. In Meng’s case, Fenton said the Canada Border Services Agency did that by detaining her, questioning her, seizing her electronic devices and demanding passwords, before handing her over to police since the warrant issued called for her immediate arrest.
“The very first thing that happened to Ms. Meng is that her electronic devices were seized,” Fenton said, adding that such seizures are not authorized by either the Customs Act or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The devices, he said, were seized at the behest of the FBI, although the requesting state – the United States – is “no longer interested in the electronic devices.”
“That does not lessen the severity of abuse,” Fenton said, adding the lack of interest in the devices by the U.S. is “not a cure-all” for the potential abuse involved in their search and seizure.
Fenton said abuse of process claims, which will make up a parallel civil case early next year, “need not relate to evidence” and can relate to potential interference with due process, which may include “odious and offensive comments made by the president of the United States.”
He also again accused the Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of being involved with a “covert criminal investigation” while “holding up or maintaining a plausible facade where in reality they were exercising their powers for an improper purpose.” As a result, Meng’s rights were breached “in a serial way,” Fenton said, and urged Chief Justice Heather Holmes to look at border agents and police actions as a “larger pattern of abuse” to be taken cumulatively.
“We are not on the proverbial fishing expedition in any way,” he said. “We are not relying on conjecture and guesswork.”
Disclosure hearings are scheduled into next week as Meng’s defense team continues to seek further information about her arrest and detention at Vancouver airport in December 2018.
Meng faces extradition to the United States on what U.S. authorities say is her role in deceiving banks over Huawei’s activities in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.