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

Unemployment surpasses historic high in Greater Victoria, tourism hit hard

Hospitality and tourism sectors hurting as pandemic continues

Victoria tattoo shops respond to sex assault allegations against male artists

Carne Tattoo and Painted Lotus Studios respond to allegations

Victoria seeks court order to enforce sheltering rules in Beacon Hill Park

People being asked to move out of environmentally sensitive areas of park

Mayor not in favour of low barrier housing at Oak Bay Lodge

Process is already in place to determine future of Oak Bay Lodge

Police watchdog reviewing Victoria police-involved crash

VicPD officer collided with another car in downtown intersection

VIDEO: Langford cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Most Read