Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou will this week appear in court where judges in two separate courtrooms will hear arguments that are part of her legal team’s two-pronged approach to have her extradition case thrown out.
At a preliminary disclosure hearing beginning Monday, Ms. Meng’s lawyers are set to seek details from prosecutors about her arrest at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, 2018, on a U.S. extradition request. New information would be expected to be used to argue a violation of process.
Similarly, in civil proceedings, Ms. Meng’s lawyers are expected to argue that members of the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP breached her constitutional rights during the arrest.
Both matters are essentially document-production applications, with more information being requested. A key difference between the two is the power of disclosure, said Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who has followed the case closely.
“You can get a lot of stuff out of a civil case that you could not get out of a criminal or extradition case,” he said. “That allows you to pull down the ammunition you need from the civil-case process and insert it into the extradition-case process.”
A civil claim filed in March alleges Ms. Meng was held and questioned for three hours at Vancouver’s airport without being advised of her rights, and that CBSA officers unlawfully searched her electronic devices.
Ms. Meng’s arrest has created a rift between Canada and China. Beijing arrested two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, on espionage charges, and halted imports of Canadian agricultural products, including canola and pork.
Mr. Kurland said the disclosure of new information and documents – such as video of the CBSA interview – could open the door to a fresh consideration of the entire case.
“In immigration, it’s commonplace when there’s new information and documents to reconsider a prior decision, like a refusal, or putting someone into a deportation process,” he said.
If presented with new and significant evidence that Ms. Meng’s Charter rights were breached, the possibility arises that the minister of justice and attorney-general could reconsider the decision to proceed with the extradition, Mr. Kurland said.
Ms. Meng is accused by the United States of providing misleading information to foreign banks regarding the nature of the relationship between Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Skycom Tech. Co. Ltd., which the U.S. Department of Justice calls a subsidiary that sold telecommunications equipment to Iran.
U.S. prosecutors say that placed those banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions through the money they handled. According to the indictment against Ms. Meng, one of the banks in question cleared more than US$100-million of Skycom-related transactions through the United States between 2010 and 2014.
Her extradition hearing is set to begin in January.
Both the CBSA and RCMP have denied any wrongdoing by their officers during the December arrest. A joint response to the civil case filed in June says a three-hour interview is within the normal time range for secondary customs and immigration examinations, and Ms. Meng did not ask to speak with a lawyer during this time.
The defence response also said while a CBSA officer did ask Ms. Meng for the passwords for her various devices, no one from either agency examined their contents. As well, Ms. Meng’s luggage was examined “only for immigration and custom purposes,” the response stated.
Brock Martland, a Vancouver lawyer, said it is unusual for extradition cases in Canada to be accompanied by a civil case arguing similar issues.
“In general terms, Canadian extradition cases proceed without a twin in the court system," he wrote in an e-mail. “More common is for there to be criminal and possibly civil proceedings in the requesting state, that is, the country seeking extradition.”
However, he noted that in Ms. Meng’s case, “the unusual is the norm.”
“There is nothing conventional about this case. And it is being contested by very experienced defence counsel, so I am also not surprised that so much strategy is being put into this.”
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