Lawyers for the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency deny allegations their officers breached Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s constitutional rights, including unlawfully detaining her and searching her electronic devices on her arrival in Vancouver last December.
In a joint response filed Monday to a civil suit filed by Ms. Meng in March, the agencies claimed that both CBSA and RCMP officers were acting lawfully and did not violate Ms. Meng’s Charter rights, nor did their actions cause her harm.
Although a border officer asked Ms. Meng for her phone numbers and passwords in case he was required to search the devices for customs or immigration purposes, the defence said neither border officials nor RCMP officers examined their contents.
Further, the defence response said the RCMP and the U.S. Department of Justice never requested or suggested that border officials pursue any particular line of questioning before Ms. Meng was presented with a U.S. extradition order, was read her rights and arrested at Vancouver’s airport on Dec. 1.
``The plaintiff’s allegations that her Charter rights were violated, that the defendants acted unlawfully and that she suffered harm are without merit,'' it said.
In her suit, Ms. Meng claimed she was held and questioned for three hours without being advised of her rights and that CBSA officers unlawfully searched her electronic devices.
The response pointed out that the approximate three-hour examination was within the normal time range for the secondary customs and immigration examinations, and Ms. Meng didn’t request to speak with a lawyer during this period of time. But in Ms. Meng’s suit, the claim says CBSA officers prohibited her from speaking with others, including a lawyer.
The suit also accused the defendants of deliberately delaying her arrest in order to unlawfully compel Ms. Meng to provide evidence and information.
But the RCMP and CBSA argued in the court documents that when Ms. Meng arrived at Vancouver, CBSA agents were aware she was the subject of an extradition warrant. They examined her and her luggage “only for immigration and custom purposes,” the response said.
It further stated the warrant triggered a “lookout” in the CBSA automated systems, requiring Ms. Meng to undergo a secondary examination.
After the examination, the documents said, the CBSA agent directed Ms. Meng to an RCMP officer who informed Ms. Meng of her arrest, and then apprehended her.
It noted that Ms. Meng asked to speak with a lawyer in China and such arrangements were made.
Gudmundseth Mickelson, the firm representing Ms. Meng in the claim, declined to comment on the response.
“Ms. Meng will reply in due course to the defences raised, but as the matter is currently before the Courts, no further comment will be given at this time,” lawyer Allan Doolittle said in an e-mail on Wednesday.
The U.S. government wants Ms. Meng to face criminal charges over allegations related to breaking sanctions against Iran but her extradition process has created increasing tensions between Canada and China.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
With a report from The Canadian Press