VANCOUVER (Reuters) – A police officer who denied asking Canadian border agents for Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s phone and laptop passcodes on the day of her arrest two years ago will continue to face cross-examination on how he obtained them Tuesday.
The witness testimony is part of Meng’s U.S. extradition hearing taking place in the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Meng, 48, was arrested while on a layover at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, 2018. U.S. prosecutors charged her with bank fraud, accusing her of misleading HSBC Holdings PLC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran, allegedly causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
Meng has said she is innocent of all charges against her and has mounted a defense seeking to prove that Canadian and U.S. authorities illegally directed the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) examination. Her lawyers assert police used the border agency’s additional investigative powers to gather information from her without a lawyer present.
Officers from the CBSA and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have been called to the witness stand to testify on the events surrounding Meng’s investigation and subsequent arrest, focusing specifically on alleged illegal coordination between the forces and whether identifying details about Meng’s devices were purposely shared with police.
On Monday RCMP constable Gurvinder Dhaliwal recounted how he secured Meng’s devices from a border agent immediately after she was arrested. When asked if he requested passcodes, Dhaliwal replied, “Absolutely not.”
Defense lawyer Scott Fenton questioned Dhaliwal about his memory of meetings and documents on Monday. Dhaliwal said he did not pay close attention during a briefing with the Department of Justice on the eve of Meng’s arrest, nor did he spend much time reading the provisional warrant before the arrest.
Diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing have degraded in the wake of Meng’s arrest. China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on espionage charges days later.
Witness testimony is set to last until Friday, with the potential for two to three more days scheduled in December. Meng’s extradition hearing is expected to wrap up in April 2021.
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