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Canadian cop involved in Huawei CFO's arrest says US asked agents to seize her devices


Canadian police officer involved in Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s arrest says US instructed them to seize her phone and laptop to prevent data ‘from being erased remotely’ – as second day of extradition trial kicks off

  • Meng Wanzhou, 40, is facing bank fraud charges related to violations of US sanctions against Iran 
  • She is accused of misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break US sanction laws
  • Meng has denied the charges and is fighting extradition from under house arrest in Vancouver  
  • She was arrested after landing in Vancouver from Hong Kong in December 2018
  • Her lawyers claim Canadian and US authorities had violated her rights
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Winston Yep was the first witness to testify in her US extradition case on Monday
  • He said US authorities instructed them to seize her electronic devices and place them in a ‘Faraday bag’ in order to prevent ‘data from being erased remotely’

A Canadian police officer involved in the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has claimed the US had asked border agents to seize her electronic devices at the airport so that her data could not be ‘erased remotely.’ 

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Winston Yep was the first witness to testify in Meng’s US extradition case on Monday as a five-day court hearing kicked off in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Meng, 48, who was arrested in December 2018, is facing bank fraud charges for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break US sanction laws.

The Chinese-born tech executive denies the charges and is fighting extradition from under house arrest at her Vancouver home. 

Her lawyers have alleged that Canadian and US authorities violated her rights in questioning her and searching her devices in the three hours after she disembarked from her Hong Kong flight but before her arrest. 

Meng Wanzhou (pictured on Tuesday) 40, is facing bank fraud charges in the US for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei's business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break US sanction laws

Meng Wanzhou (pictured on Tuesday) 40, is facing bank fraud charges in the US for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break US sanction laws

The Chinese-born telecoms executive has denied the charges and is fighting extradition from under house arrest at her Vancouver home

The Chinese-born telecoms executive has denied the charges and is fighting extradition from under house arrest at her Vancouver home

Meng was arrested at a Vancouver airport (pictured) in December 2018. Her lawyers have asserted that the CBSA inappropriately seized her electronic devices and that identifying information was shared with US authorities

Meng was arrested at a Vancouver airport (pictured) in December 2018. Her lawyers have asserted that the CBSA inappropriately seized her electronic devices and that identifying information was shared with US authorities

Yep on Monday was quizzed by Canadian prosecutors about how the decision was made to allow the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to arrest Meng, instead of the RCMP. 

He told the court he had received a request to detain Meng the day before her flight from Hong Kong and it had been decided in advance that she would be arrested after disembarking.

‘We talked about going on the plane… and didn’t think it was a good idea because of officer safety and public safety,’ Yep said.

He recalled that US authorities had specifically instructed their Canadian counterparts to seize her electronic devices and place them in a ‘Faraday bag’ designed to block any wireless transmissions in order to prevent ‘data from being erased remotely.’

The constable testified that he ‘didn’t know too much about’ Meng or Huawei prior to her arrival in Canada.

Because she was a ‘high-profile person,’ he added, his supervisor showed up at the airport to make sure nothing went wrong.

Yep said ‘there was no concern’ about this process and added other passengers on the plane created a potential risk of violence if they made the arrest on the aircraft.

In court filings, Meng’s lawyers alleged that Canadian and US authorities ‘conspired together to delay Meng’s arrest and tried to obtain information that would help US authorities prosecute her on fraud charges.’

Meng's arrest triggered a chill in diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing that is still continuing. She is the chief financial officer of Chinese-based telecommunications giant Huawei

Meng’s arrest triggered a chill in diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing that is still continuing. She is the chief financial officer of Chinese-based telecommunications giant Huawei

Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou leaves her Vancouver home and heads to a Canadian court on Monday to continue her battle against extradition to the United States

Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou leaves her Vancouver home and heads to a Canadian court on Monday to continue her battle against extradition to the United States

Canada has denied this and provided affidavits from members of the RCMP who were involved in Meng’s arrest.

During Monday’s hearing, Meng’s legal team strove to highlight lapses of due process, including Yep’s failure to promptly complete a chronological account of the extradition as required by Canadian extradition law. 

They described Yep’s written notes from the day as ‘very sparse’.

Huawei lawyer Richard Peck also said Yep’s concern about potential violence on the plane was disingenuous and that as trained officers, the RCMP should have been able to arrest Meng there.

The second day of witness testimony in the extradition is set to continue on Tuesday, when her lawyers are expected to question officials involved in her 2018 arrest during a stopover at the Vancouver International Airport.

Meng’s arrest triggered a chill in diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing that is still continuing. 

Soon after her detention, China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on espionage charges in what was widely seen as retaliation.

The trial is scheduled to wrap up in April 2021, although the potential for appeals means the case could drag on for years through the Canadian justice system.

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