Border officers couldn’t have legally arrested Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou: Crown

Chinese tech giant’s chief financial officer was arrested Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of the United States

Border guards could not have legally arrested Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver’s airport last December, says a lawyer representing the Canadian government.

Meng’s lawyers argue that officers with the Canada Border Services Agency should have immediately executed a provisional arrest warrant instead of questioning her for three hours before the RCMP arrested her.

The Chinese tech giant’s chief financial officer was arrested Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of the United States, which is seeking her extradition on fraud charges linked to the alleged violation of sanctions against Iran.

Crown prosecutor Diba Majzub told a B.C. Supreme Court judge Tuesday that border officers are required by law to conduct an admissibility examination on all travellers entering Canada.

He said they aren’t legally empowered to arrest people under the Extradition Act and the Crown has provided 150 examples of cases in which border officers were involved but were not the ones to execute such warrants.

The RCMP Act specifically gives the Mounties the power to execute all warrants, Majzub added.

ALSO READ: Nothing ‘sinister’ about airport questioning of Huawei exec, Crown argues

Meng’s arrest has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Canada and China. She denies any wrongdoing and her lawyers are in court seeking further documents ahead of her extradition trial in January.

Her lawyers allege that border officers, the RCMP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conspired to conduct a “covert criminal investigation” at the airport and they’re requesting documents that they believe would back up that claim.

The defence has described communications between the three agencies on the day before Meng’s arrest as improper and alleged border guards violated her charter rights when they seized her electronic devices.

Majzub said the FBI notified Canada’s border agency on Nov. 30, 2018, that a person who was subject to a provisional arrest warrant might be coming through Vancouver’s airport.

The case law demonstrates that the FBI’s advisory was legitimate and necessary for Canada to enforce its border, he said.

“Is it evidence of an ulterior motive, an abuse of process, or is it in fact, normal conduct that (allows) the CBSA to do its job?” Majzub asked.

He also argued that there is a legal line between a customs and immigration examination and an investigation of a criminal offence in Canada. Before that line is reached, charter rights are not engaged, he said.

“There was never a danger of that line being crossed,” Majzub said. “There was no criminal investigation in Canada. They’re entitled to go as far as they need to determine whether she’s admissible to Canada.”

Border guards are entitled to examine a traveller’s goods, and that has been legally interpreted to include electronic devices, he said. CBSA officers seized her devices and obtained the passcodes before passing them on to the RCMP.

The Crown has said that neither border officers nor police searched her devices and since the FBI has said it doesn’t require them, Canada has been trying for the past two months to return them to Meng.

The defence has argued that border guards seized the devices and questioned Meng about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran in order to further the U.S. case against her.

However, Majzub said border guards went as far as they did because they had legitimate concerns about possible criminality and national security.

If they had deemed her inadmissible to Canada, it’s unlikely that she would have been ordered to immediately return to China, and the RCMP could have executed the warrant while she was in detention or awaiting a hearing, he said.

The defence has noted that border guards did not actually complete their examination of Meng and instead suspended the process, at which point police executed the warrant.

Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is free on bail and living in her multi-million dollar home in Vancouver while she awaits her trial.

The U.S. alleges she lied to HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, putting the company at risk of prosecution for violating sanctions.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wildfire north of Cowichan Lake now largely under control

Crews have been on the scene since Friday

Maple Bay man rushed to hospital after being trapped under car

BC Ambulance and Maple Bay Fire Department attend scene on Wednesday morning

Air ambulance called to possible drowning in North Cowichan

Status of patient unknown at press time

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Most Read