Meng defense lawyer accuses Canadian police officer of 'cover-up'

Yolanda Curtis
November 27, 2020

A Canadian police officer involved in the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou two years ago in a USA extradition case testified on Monday he did not plan to obtain her mobile phone passcodes or search her electronic devices.

Meng, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom giant, was arrested on December 1, 2018 at the Vancouver airport by Canadian authorities acting on a U.S. warrant.

The court has heard that Meng was in the custody of border officials for almost three hours before she was arrested and informed of her charter rights and right to a lawyer.

Meng, 48, is accused of misleading the bank HSBC Holdings PLC on Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's business affairs in Iran, allegedly causing the bank to break USA sanctions. Even though the RCMP was legally entitled to do so, Vander Graaf said she believed it would be "overstepping authority".

Her lawyers have tried to derail the extradition procedure by arguing that Meng's rights were violated during her arrest, which Canada denies.

"I didn't think there was an emergency situation that necessitated the RCMP going on to the plane", she told the court.

Despite her reservations, Vander Graaf said she passed on the suggestion to RCMP Constable Gurvinder Dhaliwal the day before Meng's arrest.

CBSA and RCMP officers have been called to testify specifically on the alleged illegal coordination between the forces and whether identifying details about Meng's devices were purposely shared with police and US authorities.

In a sworn statement in 2019, Vander Graaf said she did not recall events related to the serial numbers.

Dhaliwal told the court that days after the arrest he received an email from RCMP staff sergeant Ben Chang requesting the make, model, and serial numbers, as well as photos of the devices, which Dhaliwal retrieved.

In the afternoon defense lawyer Scott Fenton pressed Dhaliwal about his travel to the airport on the eve of Meng's arrival at Vancouver International Airport.

Dhaliwal replied that it appears someone did know, based on records and exhibits.

Lundie testified in B.C. Supreme Court that he told the Mounties boarding a plane for an arrest was "not something we do" unless there is an immediate public safety concern, and that the Canada Border Services Agency needed to be included in the discussion.

Dhaliwal agreed, adding, "That's a hypothetical".

This week's witness testimony is expected to last until Friday, when a series of police witnesses will speak of their role in Meng's arrest.

Two Canadians - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor - were also arrested in China on spying charges shortly after Meng was detained, worsening relations between the countries.

Lundie is testifying as part of an evidence-gathering hearing as part of Meng's ongoing extradition case.

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