By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – A Vancouver courtroom was packed with international and national reporters Monday for the first day of an expected eight-day disclosure trial for Meng Wanzhou, chief executive officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Meng is fighting an extradition request made to Canadian authorities by the United States, where she would face fraud charges for allegedly helping her company skirt U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Her legal team hopes to prove that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) kept Meng in custody for three hours before her arrest by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Those three hours were used to conduct a “covert criminal investigation” urged by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that led to Meng’s arrest in December at Vancouver airport.
But the attorney general’s office said Meng was treated no differently than any other person who tried to enter Canada with an outstanding arrest warrant against her.
“There was no conspiracy,” it said. “The only plan was for the CBSA to carry out its lawful mandate and nothing more.”
Meng has been under house arrest since December, and Monday’s proceedings were mainly centered around her legal team requesting more documents from the attorney general’s office in a bid to show collusion between Canadian and American authorities and that the arrest was improper.
The attorney general’s office argued that volumes of records have been provided and still Meng’s lawyers cannot prove their accusations.
Her extradition hearing will begin in January 2020, but her legal team wants the additional documents to try to prove that the arrest was an abuse of process.
On Sept. 16, the attorney general’s office said Meng’s lawyers had already received sufficient documentation.
Yet “she has failed to give an air of reality to the claim that either the conduct of the CBSA or the RCMP was abusive, or that the United States behaved improperly,” it said.
Meng’s arrest touched off a diplomatic row with China, where incensed officials called for her immediate release.
Repercussions have included the arrest of two Canadians on espionage charges and the refusal of the Chinese to import agriculture and meat products from Canada.