Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers back in court to try to prove she is the victim of a conspiracy

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Meng Wanzhou’s attorneys will appear before the British Columbia Supreme Court on Monday seeking information they believe will establish Huawei’s executive as the victim of a conspiracy between US and Canadian legal agencies .Meng, the chief financial officer of a global communications giant, is required to attend the proceedings in person, but she will appear by phone from her Vancouver home as her attorneys fight over the Crown over the details of the case that the Attorney General of Canada believes he wants to keep it hidden from public view.

The fight may be over the technical aspects of legal privilege – the right to protect sensitive communications and documentation – but case watchers say the outcome could prove crucial in Meng’s battle against extradition to United States.

“This disclosure of who said what to who is critical,” said Richard Kurland, an immigration lawyer in Vancouver who has been following the proceedings closely.

“The line here is the amount of information that needs to be revealed so that the defense will know what case they need to come forward in and mount their defense, balanced against the state’s right to perform clandestine service. It’s a pretty tough balance in a deal. like that. “

Wanted for fraud and conspiracy

The United States wants Meng sent to New York to face fraud and conspiracy charges in relation to allegations that she lied to an HSBC banker in Hong in 2013 about Huawei’s control of a company accused of violating US economic sanctions against Iran.

Prosecutors say that by relying on Meng’s alleged lies to continue working with Huawei, banks risked violating the same set of penalties, risking fines and prosecution.

The Canada Border Services Agency seized Meng’s phones upon arrival in Vancouver and then turned them over to the RCMP. His lawyers say the RCMP shared technical information about the devices with the FBI. (Supreme Court of British Columbia)

Meng, 48, denied the allegations. His lawyers plan to argue that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation conspired with the Canada Border Services Agency, the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and others at the time of his arrest at the international airport in Vancouver on December 1, 2018 to mount a “secret criminal investigation”.

According to court documents, the Crown released approximately “400 documents spanning between 1,200 and 1,500 pages” in February in response to an order from Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes, the judge responsible for the case.

The Crown wishes to redact all or part of half of these documents and has also compiled a list of other documents which it believes should be refused entirely due to public interest immunity or the privilege of conversations. between lawyers and their clients.

Holmes’ initial order for the release of the documents in question followed two weeks of hearings last December, during which the defense was able to establish an “air of reality” in its claims that Meng’s rights had been overlooked. violated.

His lawyers argued that instead of an initial plan that saw the RCMP arrest him on a plane that had just arrived from Hong Kong, as the extradition warrant indicates, they chose to wait. three hours while CBSA officers detained Meng, interrogated her. without a lawyer, and took his electronic devices.

The prosecution later admitted to handing over Meng’s phone access codes to the RCMP by accident.

Alleged abuse of process

The defense accused the RCMP of recording technical information and serial numbers from their laptop, phones and tablet and forwarding them to the FBI, in violation of the Canadian Extradition Act.

The documents requested by Meng’s lawyers concerned communications between various government agencies in Canada and the United States in the days leading up to and following his arrest, as well as plans regarding his arrest and information sharing.

CSIS handed over these heavily redacted documents to Meng’s attorneys as part of the extradition process. Huawei’s executive legal team is fighting in federal court to lift the redactions. (Jason Proctor / CBC)

To some extent, this week’s hearings are expected to be a repeat of proceedings in Federal Court last month in which the Crown sought to withhold information from CSIS documents over national security concerns.

A judge has yet to rule on these claims.

The first day of the privilege hearings in the British Columbia Supreme Court is expected to be in public. The dates booked for the rest of the week will likely happen behind closed doors.

The arguments around the alleged collusion between the agencies are one of the three lines of contestation that the defense is ultimately considering making in an attempt to dismiss the case.

Meng’s lawyers also claim that she is being used as a political pawn by US President Donald Trump and that the US has distorted the crucial facts of the case against her in the first set of documents used to justify her arrest for extradition. .

Ongoing impacts

Although the court has adopted a streamlined timetable, Holmes is unlikely to come to a conclusion on the extradition until the end of next year. The defense still has to clear a series of legal hurdles before they have a chance to claim that Meng’s rights have been violated.

In May, Holmes inflicted a major setback on the defense team by concluding that the case against Meng met the bar for so-called “double jeopardy” – in the sense that the offense she is accused of states -Unis would also be considered a fraud if it had occurred. in Canada.

In the meantime, the impacts of the case continue to reverberate around the world. Relations between China and Canada have deteriorated, with China targeting imports of canola and meat and accusing two Canadians of spying, entrepreneur Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig.

WATCH | Exclusive CBC Interview with Michael Kovrig’s Wife:

Vina Nadjibulla, the wife of Michael Kovrig (although separated), speaks for the first time in an exclusive interview with Adrienne Arsenault about her detention, Canadian diplomacy and her fears for the future. Nadjibulla also shares the letters Kovrig sent during his 560 days in a Chinese prison. 13:23

The two men have been held in harsh conditions in Chinese prisons since they were first detained days after Meng’s arrest.

Meng, meanwhile, has been living under a form of house arrest since she was released on $ 10 million bail in December. She is required to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet as part of the conditions of her release and is monitored 24 hours a day by private security officers.

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