Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, leaves her home to attend a hearing at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on March 22, 2021.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

A lawyer for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou says a retired Mountie’s refusal to testify in the extradition case adds weight to an argument that the officer shared information about her devices with U.S. investigators.

Scott Fenton told a B.C. Supreme Court judge that former staff sergeant Ben Chang is the “most important witness” on the issue of whether electronic serial numbers were improperly shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“It’s simply unprecedented that a police officer would refuse to attend for cross-examination,” Mr. Fenton said Monday.

Story continues below advertisement

The arguments are part of a hearing that will determine if Ms. Meng was subjected to an abuse of process by Canadian officials, and if proven, the judge will decide whether the extradition proceedings should be stayed against her.

Ms. Meng is wanted in the United States on fraud charges related to alleged violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran, which both she and Huawei deny.

The court has heard that soon after Ms. Meng’s 2018 arrest, an FBI agent asked Mr. Chang for information about the devices in order to enter a legal request to obtain them.

Another Mountie has testified he retrieved the information at Mr. Chang’s request, but there is no direct evidence that it was ever sent to the FBI.

Mr. Chang retired six months after Ms. Meng’s arrest, moved to Macau, and refused to testify, beyond filing an affidavit saying he did not share the information, Mr. Fenton said.

He called Mr. Chang’s refusal to submit to cross-examination “one of the more troubling elements in the case,” noting that the defence cannot subpoena Mr. Chang while he is in Macau, which does not have a treaty with Canada.

He urged the judge to give no weight to Mr. Chang’s written testimony. Instead, he said the judge should reach an “adverse inference,” or conclude that the cross-examination would have undermined the claims in his affidavit.

Story continues below advertisement

“If he was cross-examined, had he not refused, his evidence would not support his credibility,” Mr. Fenton said.

Mr. Fenton has previously argued the device numbers are a “gateway” to more personal information because law enforcement can use them to request access to things like photos and contacts.

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney-general have yet to respond in court, but they say in court documents it was the responsibility of Ms. Meng’s legal team to try to compel Mr. Chang to testify, since they called him as a witness.

But Ms. Meng’s legal team never raised the possibility of compulsion with the Crown or the court, nor did they seek the assistance of a foreign judicial system, and were “instead content to do nothing and seek an adverse inference,” the Crown says.

The only reasonable inference to make from that inaction is that Mr. Chang’s evidence would damage Ms. Meng’s case, the Crown argues.

There is no evidence Mr. Chang shared the information with the FBI, nor is there evidence that the U.S. sought the device information for any improper purpose, they say in the documents.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Fenton further accused the RCMP of “unacceptable, unexplained negligence” because Mr. Chang’s text messages and emails were wiped and his workstation was replaced following his retirement.

The possible sharing of electronic serial numbers became a “live issue” in the court case weeks before a 90-day window closed on the permanent deletion of material, Mr. Fenton said. However, no Mountie took steps to review whether any relevant material was lost, he said.

“Nobody looked, nobody preserved, nobody did anything to prevent the destruction,” Mr. Fenton said.

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney-general say the emails and text messages were deleted in the normal course after Mr. Chang’s retirement.

“The RCMP’s policies around preservation and management of materials do not offend either the perceived or actual administration of justice,” the Crown says.

Another one of Ms. Meng’s lawyers, Richard Peck, began arguing Monday that the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency took deliberately “shoddy” notes.

Story continues below advertisement

The border agency’s notes make no mention of a meeting with the RCMP before the arrest. The also don’t mention any national security concerns that were later used to justify the agency’s screening of Ms. Meng, their interception of her at the airport gate, nor the arrest itself, he said.

“This conduct undermines the ability of the defence, Crown and the court to carry out their respective roles,” Mr. Peck said.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies