UPDATED: Meng defence, Crown continue to wrestle over legitimacy of RCMP/CBSA actions

The Meng Wanzhou extradition hearings continued in Vancouver today, with the defence first rebuking Crown arguments that the Huawei Technologies CFO’s 2018 arrest was proper and legal.

Defence lawyer Mona Duckett said the Crown’s argument – that the CBSA border officers had to determine Meng’s admissibility into Canada prior to RCMP serving their arrest warrant – is not valid based on the fact that multiple agents testified that Meng’s entry exam was not expected to be completed on Dec. 1, 2018, the day of her arrival and arrest.

Meng contends that – by having the CBSA go first and allowing border officers to gather her cellphones and passcodes, then passing them on to the RCMP – the purpose was an obvious attempt to use the guise of the border examination to assist in evidence-gathering in the criminal case against Meng.

“This presents a hurdle to the Attorney General of Canada’s argument that this was a reasonable priority of processes,” Duckett said. “The issue is, did they [the CBSA] have to examine her on that day? Our position is that there was no reason that process [the border exam] had to occur.

“There’s no legal authority that the CBSA exam must happen first, without delay,” Duckett continued.

The Crown had contended last week that, despite the warrant’s condition of immediate arrest, context is needed given that Meng had to first be admitted to Canada before being arrested. The Crown also said the CBSA exam was legitimately for Meng’s admissibility to Canada, because her arrest warrant triggered concerns about criminality and national security for allowing her into the country.

The border exam was thus completely independent of the RCMP process, the Crown argued. The evidence – including a slip of paper of Meng’s passcodes – were passed on to the RCMP by the CBSA in error, they added.

Tony Paisana, another of Meng’s lawyers, said the seizure of information such as the devices’ serial numbers acts as a potential gateway for U.S. and Canadian authorities to invade Meng’s privacy by obtaining personal information if they so choose.

“Whether or not [Meng’s] rights were breached should be decided on what they [the authorities] could do with this information, not on what they actually did or uncertainties,” Paisana said.

In the afternoon, Meng’s defence launched into its “fourth branch” arguments – that the United States overreached in this case and has no legal jurisdiction to charge Meng for actions that took place in Hong Kong between non-American parties.

For this portion, Meng brought forward a new attorney – Gib van Ert, who specializes in international law – to make the case that the meeting between HSBC and Meng in 2013 in Hong Kong should not be capable to trigger U.S. legal jurisdiction to ask for extradition.

In the introduction of defence arguments in this branch, defence lawyer William Smart outlined his case. 

“U.S. law does not apply in China,” Smart said. “What happens in a Hong Kong restaurant between a Chinese citizen and an Anglo-Chinese bank... is up to China to enforce. That is the foundation of the international law system.
“It is for the United States to explain to this court – from which it is asking for assistance in extradition – why its laws extend to a Chinese national in Hong Kong,” he added.

The hearings continue this week.