Crown prosecutors have accused Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s legal team of dragging out court proceedings by continuously pursuing evidence to support baseless and shifting defence theories, according to new court submissions.
In an Oct. 22 letter filed in the B.C. Supreme Court, prosecutors for the Attorney-General of Canada say Ms. Meng’s defence team has received “generous” materials during a disclosure hearing that refute their allegations of a “covert criminal investigation" to obtain evidence for use in her prosecution in the United States.
That argument had centred on the allegation that officers with the Canada Border Services Agency and RCMP colluded during Ms. Meng’s Dec. 1 arrest at Vancouver International Airport, with border officials detaining and questioning her for three hours before her arrest, in violation of her Charter rights.
The Crown accused Ms. Meng’s lawyers of later shifting their argument, saying that her Charter rights were violated when the RCMP shared identifying information from her electronic devices – such as serial numbers, SIM card and model numbers – with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The applicant’s narrative had to shift, because after receiving additional disclosure, the evidence no longer fit her allegations,” the letter states.
“Further disclosure simply leads to further speculation and demands for further or different disclosure, unsupported by evidence that would give an air of reality to the claims.”
Ms. Meng is accused by the U.S. of providing misleading information to foreign banks regarding the nature of the relationship between Chinese telecom giant Huawei and Skycom Tech, which the U.S. Department of Justice calls a subsidiary that sold telecommunications equipment to Iran.
U.S. prosecutors say Skycom’s dealings with those banks put them at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran through the money that they handled. According to the indictment against Ms. Meng, one of the banks cleared more than US$100-million of Skycom-related transactions through the U.S. between 2010 and 2014.
The Crown lawyers, who had previously accused Ms. Meng’s legal team of engaging in a “fishing expedition,” said the evolution of their position is instructive.
“Extradition matters are intended to proceed expeditiously,” the letter states. “They cannot proceed with any degree of orderliness or efficiency if the person sought is permitted to continuously explore hunches."
The court had directed the Crown prosecutors to produce affidavits from six RCMP officers in October in response to the allegation from Ms. Meng’s team that identifying information from her devices was shared with the FBI.
The Crown filed the affidavits on Oct. 9, and said they show the information was gathered only in anticipation of a mutual legal assistance request from U.S. authorities.
An affidavit by former staff-sergeant Ben Chang, who retired in June, says he was “never asked for the identifying information by … any member of the FBI, or any other member of any other United States authorities,” and so the information was never shared.
Constable Jennifer Hunter, a member of the RCMP’s E Division Federal Serious and Organized Crime-Financial Integrity Unit, similarly denied sharing any information with the FBI or any other U.S. authorities.
Peter Lea, former acting officer in charge of federal policing-operational support, said in an affidavit that he had a discussion with FBI legal attaché John Sgroi, who asked about RCMP sharing information on the devices, but did not make a specific request.
“In that conversation and as reflected in the Dec. 4 notes, Mr. Sgroi was inquiring about the electronic devices, the possibility of Ms. Meng’s release, and what assistance the RCMP would provide to ensure Ms. Meng did not flee from Canadian jurisdiction,” the affidavit says.
Mr Lea said he advised Mr. Sgroi in that conversation that imaging of Ms. Meng’s devices without judicial authority would be unlawful.
Mr. Lea said he had no further contact with Mr. Sgroi or any other U.S. authorities in respect of this file.
Ms. Meng’s formal extradition hearing is scheduled for January.
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