ReutersSep 25, 2019 04:16:12 IST
By Karen Freifeld
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou returned to a Vancouver court on Tuesday as her lawyers argued again that Canada abused its immigration processes to gather evidence against her, a claim the government says is without an "air of reality."
Meng, 47, was detained at Vancouver's airport on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States, where she is charged with bank fraud and accused of misleading HSBC Holdings Plc
On Tuesday, the second day of a hearing before Justice Heather Holmes in British Columbia Supreme Court, Meng lawyers pushed for more disclosure from the government about her detention and subsequent arrest at the airport.
Meng was searched and questioned by border officials when she landed in Vancouver from Hong Kong. She was not arrested and her rights invoked until about three hours after her arrival.
There is evidence the original plan was to go the plane and arrest Meng, her lawyers said, noting the warrant called for immediate arrest. The plan changed after a meeting between border and police officials.
Meng's lawyer Richard Peck told the judge on Tuesday that no one answered Meng when she repeatedly asked border officials why she was being detained. "She was not told she was the subject of an arrest warrant," Peck said. "She was not told this was a warrant that came out of the U.S. that had to do with activities some years ago."
As her lawyers spoke, Meng sat next to an interpreter in the well of the courtroom, wearing a short black dress with glittering sequins around the neckline and sleeves. An electronic monitoring device was strapped to her left ankle.
The disclosure hearing is scheduled through Wednesday and then to resume next week. The extradition hearing itself is set to begin in January and legal wrangling around Meng’s extradition could go on for years, according to experts.
The defence claims that, if the process was abused, it justifies halting extradition proceedings. The government claims there is no justification for halting extradition proceedings. In its filing, it called the defence's effort for more disclosure a "fishing expedition."
At Tuesday's hearing, Scott Fenton, another Meng lawyer, told the judge authorities committed "serious violations" of Meng's charter rights when border officials gathered evidence for the Canadian police and potentially the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, including seizing Meng's phones and getting her to reveal their passwords.
Fenton said Meng had a right to be free from arbitrary detention and unreasonable search and seizure, a right to understand the reason for her detention, a right to counsel and a right to silence.
In a release on Monday, the attorney general of Canada said there was no evidence border officials or police acted improperly, or that the conduct of Canadian or foreign officials compromised the fairness of the extradition proceedings.
Besides accusations of misconduct related to her detention, they argue the United States is using Meng for economic and political gain, noting that after her arrest, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would intervene if it would help close a trade deal.
The arrest has strained China's relations with both the United States and Canada. In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry reiterated the government's call for Meng to be released and allowed to return to China.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, spent 10 days in jail in December but was then released on C$10 million ($7.5 million) bail and is living in one of her two multimillion-dollar homes in Vancouver.
Huawei, the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker, has been accused by the United States of activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests. It is also a defendant in the U.S. case against Meng. Huawei denies the charges.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Writing by Chris Sanders; Editing by Denny Thomas and Lisa Shumaker)
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