Nothing ‘routine’ about Meng Wanzhou’s treatment at Vancouver airport: Defence

VANCOUVER — A lawyer for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou denies her defence team is on a “fishing expedition” for documents to support its case.

Scott Fenton told the B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday that the team is not relying on conjecture, guess work or wishful thinking when it asks the court to compel the Attorney General of Canada to release further documents related to Meng’s arrest at Vancouver’s airport last December.

“We are not on a proverbial fishing expedition in any way,” Fenton said, adding that the defence will offer a more narrow and specific request for access Wednesday.

Meng’s legal team is arguing for further disclosure in an ongoing hearing ahead of Meng’s extradition trial, which begins in January.

Fenton said the defence must convince Justice Heather Holmes that there is an “air of reality” to their allegations, including that Meng was the subject of an abuse of process, in order to compel further disclosure from the Crown.

Canada’s attorney general has not yet presented its response in court but documents show it will argue that officials followed the law when they detained the top Chinese tech executive and the defence has no proof to substantiate its “conspiracy theory” that she was illegally arrested.

Meng was arrested Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of the United States, which is seeking her extradition on fraud charges in violation of sanctions with Iran. Both Meng and Chinese tech giant Huawei have denied any wrongdoing and none of the allegations have been tested in court.

The arrest of Meng, who is the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of the company’s founder, sparked a diplomatic crisis between Canada and China. She is free on bail and living in Vancouver.

Another defence lawyer, Richard Peck, told the court Tuesday that there was nothing “routine” about the way Meng was questioned by border officials before she was read her rights and informed of her arrest at the airport.

He pointed to a solemn declaration sworn by a border official that says Meng repeatedly asked why she was taken for secondary screening and that he questioned Meng about her business activity in Iran.

Peck also presented video showing that neither he nor another border official standing by took notes of the conversation, even though the second official had “meticulously” taken notes during other portions of Meng’s detention in the screening area.

Part of the defence team’s argument will allege that the official intentionally failed to properly document their process.

The deputy minister of justice and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were also briefed on the arrest, he noted.

“There is nothing routine about this,” Peck told the court.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 24, 2019.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

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