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British Columbia B.C. judge orders RCMP to give copies of data from seized devices to Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou

Huawei Technologies co-chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou arrives back at home after her court appearance in Vancouver, British Columbia, March 6, 2019.

BEN NELMS/Reuters

A judge has ordered the RCMP to provide copies of the content on seven electronic devices to an executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies after they were seized at Vancouver’s airport during her arrest.

Justice Heather Holmes of the British Columbia Supreme Court said in an order issued after a brief hearing Friday that the RCMP must make copies for Meng Wanzhou of data on an iPhone, an iPad, a Macbook Air, a Huawei phone, two SIM cards and a flash drive.

Holmes said a representative of the Mounties must forward the electronics to an examiner of the force’s technical crime unit within three days so content can be extracted onto devices provided by Meng.

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She ordered the devices be unsealed under the supervision of one of Meng’s defence lawyers, who Holmes called a “referee” in her written order, adding the lawyer would supervise the examiner’s work and be provided with a copy of the information as well as a list of files for his client.

The examiner must then reseal the seized devices and seal two copies of the data transferred for the RCMP on devices it has provided, one as a backup, Holmes said.

She ordered the RCMP to keep the copies and a list of files in a secure exhibit locker until they are provided to the court, along with the seized electronics.

“The seized devices and the RCMP copy and the RCMP backup shall not otherwise be unsealed or accessed without a further order of this court,” Holmes said in her written order.

The items were confiscated on Dec. 1 when Meng was taken into custody at the request of the United States, which is seeking her extradition on fraud charges.

Canada announced earlier this month that a hearing against Huawei’s chief financial officer can move forward but Justice Minister David Lametti would ultimately decide whether Meng would be extradited to face charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit both.

She has denied any wrongdoing.

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Meng has been free on bail since Dec. 11 and is living in one of her two multimillion-dollar homes in Vancouver while wearing an electronic tracking device and being monitored by a security company.

She and her husband provided $7.5-million in cash for the $10-million bail and the rest was covered by four sureties, including three people who put up their homes as a deposit and a fourth who brought a $50,000 certified cheque to the court.

A lawyer for Meng and the Justice Department did not comment outside court on Friday.

Meng was not in court but her previous appearances have drawn a number of spectators and extra sheriffs have been needed.

Holmes asked the defence and the Crown to come up with suggestions on how to balance the public’s interest in the case and the demands it has put on court staff trying to do their regular duties.

“Her attendance seems to attract an enormous amount of attention both beforehand and the day of her attendance,” she said.

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“It does place considerable stress on the court’s resources although people are entitled to be here,” she said. “I imagine it may have been stressful for Ms. Meng herself.”

Last week in New York, lawyers for Huawei entered not guilty pleas on allegations the company violated Iran trade sanctions.

Prosecutors in the United States have accused Huawai of using a Hong Kong front company to trade with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions, alleging Meng, the daughter of the company’s founder, lied to banks about those dealings.

Huawei is also accused in a separate indictment of stealing technology secrets. Meng and the company have also denied any wrongdoing relating to those allegations.

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