Canada police supervisor relayed 'strong suggestion' to arrest Huawei CFO on plane, court hears

By Sarah Berman
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A Canadian police officer overseeing the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou forwarded a "strong proposal" to an arrest officer from her manager to arrest Meng on the plane she was on.
However, Meng was first arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and interrogated for almost three hours, during which time border officials confiscated her electronic devices and secured passwords.
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Huawei attorneys have alleged that during Meng's arrest at Vancouver Airport two years ago, the U.S. and Canadian authorities coordinated using CBSA's additional investigative powers to interrogate her without a lawyer present, before Canadian police charged Meng arrested under a US arrest warrant for bank fraud.
Meng, 48, denies the United States' allegations of misleading HSBC about Huawei's dealings in Iran, which led the bank to potentially breaching US trade sanctions. Her lawyers allege that her civil rights were violated during interrogation and arrest and are trying to dismiss her extradition.
Sergeant Janice Vander Graaf of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said she had concerns about her manager's proposal to arrest Meng on the plane. Although the RCMP was legally entitled to do so, Vander Graaf said she believed it was "a transgression of authority".
"I didn't think there was an emergency situation that required the RCMP to get on the plane," she told the court.
Despite her reservations, Vander Graaf said she forwarded the proposal to RCMP Constable Gurvinder Dhaliwal the day before Meng was arrested.
CBSA and RCMP officials were asked to testify specifically about the alleged illegal coordination between the armed forces and whether the identification of details on Meng's equipment was deliberately shared with police and US authorities.
Dhaliwal told the court Tuesday morning that he did not remember a separate conversation he had with Vander Graaf in which he told her that confidential information had been sent to US authorities through these devices.
Defense attorney Scott Fenton confronted Dhaliwal with a note from his supervisor indicating that Dhaliwal knew that Staff Sergeant Ben Chang, one of his colleagues, sent the serial numbers and SIM card numbers from Meng's devices to the U.S. FBI a year ago on evidence.
Chang, who has since withdrawn from the RCMP, has refused to testify. Court documents show prosecutors refused to share any notes about him on concerns about the safety of witnesses.
When asked if he agreed that Meng's serial numbers were private information and may require further authorization, Dhaliwal replied, "It didn't cross my mind at the time."
Meng's attorneys have argued that at the time of her arrest, the FBI was conspiring with the CBSA and the Canadian Federal Police to launch an "undercover criminal investigation".
Fenton asked Dhaliwal on Tuesday if he knew that Meng was "subject to FBI surveillance."
Dhaliwal replied that it appears someone knew based on records and exhibits.
Fenton also focused on what rights Meng would have been read had the RCMP arrested her immediately after disembarking a plane from Hong Kong rather than waiting until after the CBSA's investigation, arguing she was over the charges against her and her Right to legal assistance has been informed.
Dhaliwal agreed, adding, "That's a hypothesis."
Diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing have deteriorated after Meng's arrest. China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig days later for espionage.
Testimony is expected to last until Friday, with two to three more days in December. Meng's extradition negotiations are expected to be completed in April 2021.
(Reporting by Sarah Berman in Vancouver; Additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Denny Thomas, Matthew Lewis and Leslie Adler)

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