No evidence that FBI, RCMP directed border guards’ examination of Meng Wanzhou: Crown

Defence alleges authorities conspired to obtain info from Huawei CFO to boost U.S. case against her

No evidence that FBI, RCMP directed border guards’ examination of Meng Wanzhou: Crown

There’s no evidence to support a “conspiracy” theory that United States officials directed Canadian border guards to interrogate Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver’s airport, a Crown prosecutor says.

Defence lawyers argue that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency conspired to obtain information from Meng during an admissibility exam in order to advance a criminal case against her in the U.S.

Meng was passing through the airport on Dec. 1, 2018, when Canadian border guards questioned her about Huawei’s business in Iran and seized her electronic devices before the RCMP executed a provisional arrest warrant.

John Gibb-Carsley, representing the federal Justice Department, told a British Columbia Supreme Court judge Wednesday there’s no proof the FBI or RCMP ordered border guards to conduct the exam or provided questions to them.

He also dismissed the defence’s claims that RCMP officers’ notes suggest they initially planned to board Meng’s plane to arrest her and that this plan abruptly changed on the morning of Dec. 1 to allow border guards to interview her first.

“These may seem like trivial points to correct, but in my respectful submission, this is the only evidence my friends have before this court to weave their story of a conspiracy,” he told the judge.

“Each fact that becomes put in context, and the sinister nature removed, I say erodes their overall allegations.”

The U.S. is seeking Meng’s extradition on fraud charges. She’s accused of lying to HSBC about Huawei’s work in Iran, putting the bank at risk of prosecution for violating sanctions against the country.

READ MORE: Border officers couldn’t have legally arrested Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou, Crown says

Meng, whose arrest sparked a diplomatic crisis between Canada and China, denies wrongdoing and her lawyers are in court seeking further documents ahead of her extradition hearing in January.

Canadian border guards held Meng for three hours and, in addition to seizing her electronic devices, obtained her passcodes and wrote them on a piece of paper that they gave to the RCMP when she was arrested.

The Crown acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that border guards should not have handed over her passcodes.

The CBSA later realized its “error” and asked for the codes back, but the RCMP responded that the passwords had already formed part of the evidence before a judge, the Crown said.

Justice Heather Holmes continued to push prosecutors on Wednesday for details on how the error occurred and when it was realized.

Gibb-Carsley said the passcodes were included on a list of evidence filed with the court on Dec. 6, so it’s fair to infer that the mistake was realized some time after that date.

He stressed that a forensic examination has shown that neither border guards nor Mounties used the passcodes or searched the phones. The U.S. has dropped its request for the devices and Canada is seeking to return them to Meng, he said.

“We know the passcodes were passed over. We know that was done in error. But what I respectfully submit there’s no evidence of is that it was done for a nefarious purpose,” Gibb-Carsley said.

“The passcodes will never be used on devices that will be returned to Ms. Meng.”

An RCMP officer’s notes from the morning of Dec. 1 say that the CBSA will locate Meng’s phones “as per FBI request” and place them in mylar bags. The defence has suggested this is proof of improper co-ordination between the agencies.

Gibb-Carsley said border guards have legal authority to seize devices and obtain passwords. Mylar bags prevent phones from being wiped remotely and it would have been inappropriate for the RCMP to not warn the border agency about the possibility of sensitive data being removed from Meng’s devices while they were in custody, he said.

The defence is seeking further documents that it believes would prove its allegations of the three agencies conspiring to conduct a “covert criminal investigation” at the airport. It has also suggested there should be a stay of proceedings.

Gibb-Carsley said there’s no evidence that would back up the extreme measure of a stay and the Crown has already disclosed extensive documents that go beyond its legal obligations.

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

The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is offering courses in drawing May through August 2021. (Submitted)
A&E column: Art is everywhere in the Cowichan Valley

What’s going in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

The CVRD introduces new app to contact residents during emergencies, a tool that chairman Aaron Stone says will improve communications. (File photo)
CVRD launches new app to spread information during emergencies

Cowichan Alert is a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

The Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors in July 2021. (Malahat SkyWalk photo)
Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors this July

Highly anticipated attraction will take guests 250m above sea level

FILE PHOTO
Editorial: Time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in

They’re just not quite sure they want to get a vaccine — yet

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

Most Read