‘Witness Safety’ Concern Raises Questions Over Key Witness Decision Not to Testify in Meng Wanzhou Case

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Lawyers for the Attorney General of Canada have reported on a conversation involving a key RCMP witness who refuses to testify in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition proceedings over concerns about “witness safety,” according to documents filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia.Retired RCMP Sgt. Ben Chang lived and worked in the Chinese gambling paradise of Macau when his name first appeared in Meng’s extradition proceedings last fall as the Federal Inquiries Officer. United States Bureau of Investigation.

Chang’s actions lie at the heart of a mystery that lawyers for Huawei’s management believe may hold the key to ending attempts to return her to the United States.

They accused Chang of sharing technical details about Meng’s electronic devices with the FBI in the days following his arrest at the Vancouver airport in violation of his rights and of Canadian extradition law.

A reference to “witness security”

Meng is charged with fraud in the United States for allegedly lying to an HSBC executive about Huawei control of a subsidiary accused of violating US economic sanctions against Iran.

Prosecutors say that by relying on his alleged lies to pursue a financial relationship with Huawei, HSBC has been exposed to risk of loss and lawsuits.

CBSA officers seized Meng Wanzhou’s laptop computer, along with his phones and other electronic devices. His defense team says technical information related to the devices was then sent to the FBI. (Supreme Court of British Columbia)

At the time of his arrest on December 1, 2018, Meng’s laptop, tablet, and phones were taken away by the RCMP.

An FBI legal attache has requested technical details associated with the devices – information the defense says it should normally obtain through official channels.

Chang swore an affidavit denying any wrongdoing – but his version of events was contradicted by notes from another officer who suggested that a colleague told him Chang passed the information on to the FBI.

Earlier this week, defense attorney Richard Peck revealed that Chang had retained a lawyer and informed Meng’s legal team and the Crown that the retired officer would not testify.

No reason was given, but Peck said the decision would be “of some concern” to the defense.

On Wednesday, in a reference found in court documents unearthed by the South China Morning Post, it emerged that the Crown had objected to the release of notes on a conversation between Chang and a lawyer with the Justice Department, partly because of the “security witness.” “

‘Attempts to cover up their wrongdoing’

The two-word reference is found in a spreadsheet prepared in April included in 239 pages of briefs filed this summer ahead of arguments regarding the disclosure of documents, emails, notes and other material related to the high-profile case.

The document is a summary of an October 2019 phone call between Chang and Department of Justice attorney Kerry Swift. The concerns were not explained and the document was then released to Meng’s lawyers, but not to the public.

This refers to a conversation between a Justice Department lawyer and the retired RCMP Sgt. Ben Chang has been referenced in a spreadsheet that reports concerns about “witness safety.” (Supreme Court of British Columbia)

Chang could not be reached for comment.

Chinese Foreign Minister Zhao Lijian was questioned during his daily briefing on Chang’s decision not to testify on Wednesday.

“We have taken note of the relevant reports. Attempts by the Canadian side to cover up their wrongdoing will only raise more doubts and give a clearer picture of the political nature of the Meng Wanzhou incident, ”Zhao told reporters.

He later accused Canada of playing “the idiot with questionable points constantly emerging in the Meng Wanzhou incident”.

‘I understood it was a serious case’

Two officers from the Canada Border Services Agency who interviewed the 48-year-old woman in the hours leading up to her arrest testified on Wednesday of their involvement in the case.

A defense attorney charged Supt. Sanjit Dhillon for lying about Huawei’s Iranian affairs issues through a Google search that led him to the “controversies” section on the company’s Wikipedia page.

Dhillon denied suggestions that he asked questions at the request of the RCMP.

And CBSA officer Sowsmith Katragadda, who led Meng’s questioning, said he knew other agencies might want to access the information gleaned from his questions, but told the RCMP they should go through official channels.

Katragadda told a crown attorney he wanted to ensure that the CBSA conducted a review of Meng’s admissibility to Canada that was separate from the RCMP arrest in connection with the extradition.

“I wanted to be clear about when he got to court,” Katragadda said. “I understood that it was a serious case. “

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