Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is seeking fuller access to redacted spy agency documents to bolster her claim that her Charter rights were violated during her arrest in Vancouver and that her extradition case should be thrown out.
At a virtual hearing at Ottawa’s Federal Court on Monday, Ms. Meng’s lawyers argued that several documents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, previously released under a disclosure order, were likely the subject of excessive redactions and overly broad claims of privilege.
The Canadian government has said that releasing the unredacted documents would compromise national security and inflame tensions between the governments of Canada and China.
Defence lawyer Ian Carter said Monday the substance of the materials is already in the public realm.
“We’re looking for additional pieces of the puzzle that are relevant to what happened with respect to the respondent’s arrest,” he told Justice Catherine Kane.
Ms. Meng was detained at Vancouver International Airport in December, 2018, and has stayed under partial house arrest in Vancouver since. The United States alleges the Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. executive lied to HSBC about her company’s business in Iran, which put a U.S. subsidiary of the global bank at risk of running afoul of sanctions on Iran. American authorities are seeking her extradition to the U.S. to face fraud charges.
Ms. Meng’s high-powered legal team has formed a multipronged defence strategy, with one argument being that her Charter of Rights and Freedoms protections were violated during the arrest and therefore the case should be tossed.
Defence lawyer Scott Fenton said Monday that Ms. Meng’s electronic devices were taken and sealed in signal-blocking Faraday bags and that she was detained for three hours without ever being told why, or that there was a provisional warrant for her arrest.
“All of that information was intentionally withheld from her and, throughout this investigation, Ms. Meng was deprived of every applicable Charter right,” Mr. Fenton said.
They are now seeking additional information related to the arrest, such as details of the planning process, who was involved, and relevant details on the interagency co-operation involving the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.
A memorandum submitted by Ms. Meng’s team as part of this week’s arguments said national security privilege should not be used to cover up information relevant to the allegations of abuse of process.
“Additionally, national security privilege should not be used to protect government enforcement officials from being embarrassed,” the memo said.
In a brief response, Crown lawyer Robert Frater, on behalf of the U.S., said the Attorney-General rejects the idea that there was any conspiracy to deprive Ms. Meng of her rights, or that government officials failed to execute the arrest warrant properly.
“All of those allegations are going to be vigorously contested in B.C. Supreme Court,” he said.
Asked Monday about Ms. Meng’s case, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Canada’s willingness to act on behalf of U.S. interests is to blame for frosty Canada-China relations.
“The Canadian court’s evidence clearly reveals that the case of Meng Wanzhou is a serious political incident manufactured by the U.S. to oppress Chinese hi-tech firms, including Huawei, by abusing its extradition treaty with Canada,” Mr. Wang told reporters at a news conference in Beijing.
“Canada is acting as a cat’s paw for the U.S. It has been used by the U.S. to serve the goals of a few American politicians and the interests of American businesses. This is a clear fact to not only China, but also people with vision in the U.S., Canada and beyond.”
Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, have been held in China since the month of Ms. Meng’s arrest, in a move widely seen as retaliation. China also subsequently banned shipments of Canadian meats and severely curbed purchases of canola seed and soybeans. Beijing has since lifted the ban on meat imports, but canola exports continue to face obstacles.
Arguments continue with a closed hearing on Thursday.
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