Huawei's CFO wins Canada court fight to see more documents on her arrest

Published: December 11, 2019
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Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to appear in British Columbia supreme court for a hearing, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada September 30, 2019. 
PHOTO: REUTERS

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to appear in British Columbia supreme court for a hearing, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada September 30, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

Lawyers for Huawei’s chief financial officer have won a court battle after a judge asked Canada’s attorney general to hand over more evidence and documents relating to the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, according to a court ruling released on Tuesday.

Meng’s legal team has contested her extradition in the Canadian courts on grounds that the United States is using it for economic and political gain, and that she was unlawfully held, searched and interrogated by Canadian authorities acting for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes in the Supreme Court of British Columbia agreed with Huawei’s appeal for Canada’s attorney general to release more documents relating to the run-up to and events of the arrest.

Meng’s team believes the papers will support its claim of an abuse of process.

Holmes cautioned that her ruling was limited and does not address the merit of Huawei’s allegations that Canadian authorities improperly handled identifying information about Meng’s electronic devices.

The Department of Justice told Reuters Canada’s attorney general was reviewing the decision to determine what fell within the scope of the disclosure order, in order to comply with it.

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“Ms Meng is being afforded a fair process before the British Columbia Supreme Court in accordance with extradition law and our treaty with the United States,” a spokesman added. “This will continue throughout these proceedings.”

Huawei declined to comment.

Meng, 47, was arrested at the Vancouver International Airport on December 1, 2018, at the request of the United States, where she is charged with bank fraud and accused of misleading the bank HSBC (HSBA.L) about Huawei’s’ business in Iran. She has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition.

She was questioned by Canadian immigration authorities prior to her arrest, and her lawyers have asked the government to hand over more documents about her arrest.

In her ruling, Holmes wrote that she found the evidence tendered by the attorney general to have “notable gaps,” citing the example of why the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) “made what is described as the simple error of turning over to the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), contrary to law, the passcodes CBSA officers had required Ms Meng to produce.”

Holmes also said the attorney general did not provide adequate evidence to “rebut inferences from other evidence that the RCMP improperly sent serial numbers and other identifiers of Ms Meng’s devices to the FBI.”

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Holmes said the gaps in evidence raised questions “beyond the frivolous or speculative about the chain of events,” and led her to conclude that Meng’s application “crosses the air of reality threshold.”

The order does not require the disclosure of documents – the attorney general may assert a privilege, which Meng could contest in court.

No timeline was outlined in Holmes’ ruling.

Meng’s extradition hearing will begin on January 20, 2020, in a federal court in Vancouver.

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