By Moira Warburton
(Reuters) – In a case dating back two years, lawyers for Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on Thursday will resume questioning a Canada border officer who intercepted Meng before the federal police arrested her.
Scott Kirkland, an officer with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), told a Vancouver court on Wednesday he was worried about allegations being brought of potential civil rights violations if the agency intercepted and interviewed Meng before her arrest by Canadian police.
Meng, 48, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 while on a layover bound for Mexico. The United States charged her with bank fraud, accusing her of misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran and causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
She has said she is innocent and is fighting the charges from Vancouver, where she is under house arrest in her home in Shaughnessy, one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Canada.
Meng’s lawyers have argued that abuses of process occurred in the three hours between when she was intercepted by CBSA officers and her arrest by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), when she had no legal representation.
The officer who arrested her, RCMP Constable Winston Yep, testified over Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday, before Kirkland took the stand.
Yep insisted that the RCMP stayed in their lane and did not direct the CBSA in its investigation of Meng.
Prosecutors for the Canadian government have tried to prove that Meng’s arrest was by the book, and any lapses in due process should not impact the validity of her extradition.
Meng’s arrest caused diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing to become rocky. Soon after her detention, China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on espionage charges.
The witness testimony, expected to last until Friday, is focusing on the second of three branches of abuses of process that Meng’s lawyers claim took place, specifically during her arrest.
Meng’s extradition hearings are scheduled to wrap up in April 2021, although the potential for appeals mean the case could drag on for years.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Denny Thomas and Grant McCool)