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

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

Third time lucky for Freedom Mobile cell tower in Sooke

Council approves tower after cell provider applies multiple times

Petition calls for suspension of Victoria councillor Ben Isitt

Isitt says petition ‘does not provide a reliable barometer of public opinion’

Grave site at Ross Bay Cemetery vandalized overnight

Graffiti found on grave of Sir James Douglas

T’Sou-ke First Nation mired in legal woes over gas station development

Claims and counterclaims leave sub-contractors unpaid

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

Resident discovers five discarded hog heads in Vancouver Island ditch

WARNING: Graphic image may be upsetting to some readers

Canadian Premier League announces 2020 home dates for eight-team circuit

Pacific FC hosts FC Edmonton on April 11 in Langford

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

Most Read