A lawyer for Meng Wanzhou, the executive from Chinese telecoms group Huawei who is fighting extradition to the US, has told a Vancouver court that Canadian law enforcement officials engaged in a “covert criminal investigation” on behalf of the US during her interrogation and arrest last year.
Richard Peck made the comments in the Supreme Court of British Columbia where Ms Meng’s legal team is seeking to use extensive documentary evidence that they hope will aid their attempt to scuttle the extradition.
Ms Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei, has been held under house arrest after being detained in Vancouver airport in December, in a case that has strained relations between Canada and China.
The extradition hearing itself is not scheduled to begin until January, while the arguments that began on Monday over materials and documents are expected to last into next week.
Ms Meng, who attended court wearing sparkling silver high-heel shoes with an electronic ankle bracelet around one leg, was allowed to exit the defendant’s box in order to sit closer to her legal team and examine many of the documents at issue. The stack of binders is so voluminous that at one point Justice Heather Holmes had to stand up to swap around those piled on her desk. One affidavit is 1,000 pages long.
Mr Peck said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Border Services Agency engaged in misconduct and outlined what he said was a deliberate pattern of Canadian officials collecting evidence in order to send to US investigators. He cited an affidavit from an RCMP officer that mentioned seizing “any electronic devices . . . to preserve evidence as there will be a request from the FBI”.
He also claimed that the trove of documents and affidavits submitted contained a reference to a request from US officials for any seized electronic devices to be placed in a secure bag that blocks devices from being wiped remotely. “The FBI [and] law enforcement made it a priority to seize devices and [this] was done so without question by Canada,” Mr Peck said.
The CBSA has already responded to the claims, saying: “There is no evidence that lends an air of reality to these allegations.”
Ms Meng was apprehended following a US extradition request over allegations Huawei had violated sanctions against Iran. The US says the telecoms equipment maker circumvented sanctions through Skycom, a company based in Tehran that prosecutors claim was actually controlled by the Chinese group.
She is accused of lying about the relationship between the two companies to an HSBC executive during a meeting at a Hong Kong restaurant in 2013 — allegedly putting US banks at risk of violating sanctions.
Huawei denies the accusations.
The affair has upended relations between Canada and China: Beijing has blocked imports of canola seeds, pork and beef from Canada, two Canadians accused of drug trafficking in China have been sentenced to death, and two men — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — were arrested in China and charged with stealing state secrets for a foreign organisation.