By Sarah Berman
VANCOUVER (Reuters) – A police officer stationed at Vancouver’s airport who rejected a plan to arrest Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on the plane she arrived on two years ago will face more questioning from Meng’s lawyers on Friday.
Meng, 48, was arrested on a U.S. warrant on charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting the extradition from under house arrest in Vancouver.
She was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 following a three-hour examination by Canadian border officials. The interrogation has become a flashpoint in the case to extradite her to the United States.
Prosecutors have argued that Meng’s investigation and arrest followed standard procedures.
Her lawyers allege that Canadian and U.S. authorities conspired to use the additional investigative powers of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to interrogate Meng without a lawyer present before her arrest. They further claim that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) passed on the identifying details of Meng’s electronic devices to U.S. authorities, in violation of her civil rights.
As evidence, Meng’s lawyers have pointed out that the RCMP could have arrested Meng on the plane but instead chose to allow the CBSA to conduct an investigation first.
Ross Lundie, a sergeant with the RCMP based at Vancouver International Airport, testified on Thursday that he pushed back against an initial police plan to apprehend Meng on the plane, stating that plane arrests are “not something we do… unless there’s an immediate safety risk.”
Lundie said he suggested on the morning of Meng’s arrest that CBSA conduct their examination of Meng first, recognizing that she was a foreign national.
He also testified on Thursday to receiving several calls from officials with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, asking for status updates on Meng’s detainment.
Diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing have deteriorated since Meng’s arrest. China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on espionage charges days later.
Meng’s extradition hearing is expected to wrap up in April 2021.
(Reporting by Sarah Berman in Vancouver; Additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Denny Thomas and Andrea Ricci)