Huawei's CFO wins right to access more evidence on her arrest

Canada's attorney general has been ordered to hand over documents relating to Meng Wanzhou's arrest to her defence team.

    Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou remains under house arrest in Vancouver after being freed on bail [File: Lindsey Wasson/Reuters]
    Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou remains under house arrest in Vancouver after being freed on bail [File: Lindsey Wasson/Reuters]

    Lawyers for Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou won a court battle that will give them access to more evidence and documents relating to her arrest in Canada, as the Chinese national fights extradition to the United States.

    In a ruling on Tuesday, a judge ordered Canada's attorney general, police and border agency to provide Meng's defence team with records about the planning and execution of her arrest in the Vancouver International Airport on December 1, 2018.

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    Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes agreed with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's legal team that there is an "air of reality" to their assertion that Canadian authorities improperly handled identifying information about Meng's electronic devices.

    However, the Supreme Court of British Columbia cautioned that the ruling is limited and does not address the merit of Huawei's allegations.

    In the ruling, Holmes said the order "does not predict or imply that Ms Meng's claim of abuse of process will ultimately succeed."

    She said it is also not yet clear whether the alleged abuse of process, if proven, would be serious enough to require a stay of proceedings.

    Such a stay is only granted "in the rarest of cases", she said. "However, I cannot rule out the possibility that it would."

    The ruling also supported some arguments from Meng's defence that there have been notable gaps in the evidence provided so far.

    "I view the evidence tendered by the Attorney General to address those gaps as strategic in its character yet impoverished in its substance," the judge said, noting that Canada has left "largely unexplained" why border officials turned over Meng's passwords to the police, contrary to law, and when and how the mistake came to light.

    Meng, 47, was arrested at the request of the US, where she is charged with bank fraud and accused of misleading HSBC bank about Huawei Technologies' business in Iran. She has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition.

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

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

    Strained relationship

    Canada-China ties, which have turned icy over the arrest, were further strained on Tuesday when Canadian legislators separately approved the creation of a special committee to examine relations with China.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals, having lost their parliamentary majority in an October election, has faced opposition criticism for being too soft with China.

    The proposed 12-person committee will conduct hearings to review all aspects of Canada's relations with China. It is due to meet for the first time on January 20.

    "This committee will help shed light on Justin Trudeau's failures to stand up for Canadian interests with respect to Beijing," Conservative foreign affairs spokesman Erin O'Toole said in a statement.

    Trudeau has stressed the need not to escalate the dispute with China. The Liberals said existing committees already deal with the China relationship.

    The Conservatives say Trudeau should scrap a 250 million Canadian dollar ($188m) investment in the Chinese-owned Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. They also oppose the use of Huawei technology for the construction of an ultra-fast 5G wireless network.

    Legislators voted 171 to 148 for creating the committee. Trudeau's office was not immediately available for comment to Reuters News Agency.

    SOURCE: News agencies