Huawei executive accuses Canada of destroying evidence in extradition case

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves court in Vancouver, on March 15, 2021.
Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves court in Vancouver, on March 15, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

VANCOUVER (AFP) - Lawyers for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on Thursday (March 18) accused Canadian authorities of destroying evidence, saying federal police wiped the e-mails and computers of a senior officer involved in her extradition case.

Meng, the Chinese telecom giant's chief financial officer, is fighting extradition to the United States where she faces charges of bank fraud and conspiracy related to a Huawei subsidiary's alleged violations of US sanctions on Iran.

Both Meng and Huawei deny any wrongdoing.

In court documents, defence lawyers allege Canada breached Meng's rights when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police deleted computer files, text messages and e-mails of staff sergeant Ben Chang after he retired from the force in 2019.

Staff Sgt Chang sent an e-mail to the US FBI after Meng's arrest, which her lawyers suggest improperly contained her electronic device passcodes and serial numbers.

The attorney-general of Canada denied the allegation.

"There is no evidence that the RCMP or CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) engaged in the systemic destruction of evidence," the office said in a court filing.

"There is no indication that the events alleged by (Meng) transpired."

Staff Sgt Chang, who retired to work in the Macau Special Administrative Region of China, swore in an affidavit he never sent any of Meng's device information to the US authorities.

When called to testify, however, he refused to appear and retained his own lawyer, something Meng's attorneys called "indefensible".

"This destruction of evidence gives rise to a separate breach of Ms Meng's rights," her lawyers argued.

"This was done at a time when the RCMP and (the US Department of Justice) were put on notice of staff sergeant Chang's relevance to the proceedings."

The seizure of Meng's cellphones and other devices during her Vancouver airport detention on Dec 1, 2018, was the subject of several days of her extradition hearings this week in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

One of her lawyers, Ms Mona Duckett, alleged on Thursday that Canadian border guards and federal police conspired to obtain Meng's phones and passcodes at the behest of the FBI, and did not have a legitimate customs or immigration reason to do so.

Canada denies it breached Meng's rights.

Government lawyers have called on the judge to throw out the allegations, which they said were "supported only by speculation and innuendo", and proceed to extradition.

Meng's extradition case is scheduled to end mid-May.