VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Canadian justice department lawyers said Tuesday there is no evidence to support defense allegations of a “covert criminal investigation” involving the United States which could result in stopping the extradition hearing for a senior executive for China's Huawei.
Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer who is also the daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested at the Vancouver airport in late 2018 at the request of the U.S., which wants her extradited to face fraud charges. The arrest infuriated Beijing, which sees her case as a political move designed to prevent China’s rise.
The U.S. accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It says Meng committed fraud by misleading the HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
Meng’s lawyers claim her extraction should be halted because Canada Border Services Agency officers detained and questioned her without a lawyer, asked questions that benefited U.S. authorities, seized her electronic devices, and put them in special bags to prevent wiping, and compelled her to give up the passcodes before her official arrest.
Canadian justice department lawyer Robert Frater said Meng's lawyers offered “an exciting narrative” but what actually happened is more “prosaic.”
He said the judge’s duty is not to “conduct an audit” of the border officials and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police actions but to decide if there was any prejudice “that would be aggravated by allowing these proceedings to continue.”
Frater said the U.S. was entitled to ask that Meng’s phones and electronic devices be ceased and said there no evidence that proves information from Meng’s devices were shared with the U.S.
Meng’s lawyers will be back in court next month arguing the U.S. is exceeding the limits of its jurisdiction by prosecuting a foreign citizen for actions that took place in Hong Kong and that Canada was misled by the U.S. about the strength of its case. The extradition case could take years.
Soon after Meng’s arrest, China arrested Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in apparent retaliation and charged them with spying. Both have remained in custody with limited access to visits by Canadian consular officials.
The two made closed-door court appearances over the last week. Canadian consular officials were barred from attending the proceedings and no verdicts were announced.
Meng remains free on bail in Vancouver and is living in a mansion.