Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has lost a bid to force Canadian authorities to turn over more documents related to her 2018 arrest, with a judge likening the undisclosed documents to “separately served gravy”, in contrast to the “meat loaf” of the disclosed evidence already placed before the court.
In an email late on Thursday, a Canadian Department of Justice spokesman hailed the ruling by Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the British Columbia Supreme Court for having “upheld a majority of Canada’s privilege claims”.
Canada had sought to shield from Meng’s lawyers emails between Canadian and US authorities, citing lawyer-client privilege.
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“Canada respects the decision made by Associate Chief Justice Holmes and the court process that led to this decision … these proceedings have been conducted in accordance with the Extradition Act, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and with our treaty partners, in this case, with the United States,” said the spokesman’s statement.
In her ruling, Holmes said almost all of the 19 documents were emails “among IAG lawyers and, in broad terms, appear to be directed, though sometimes not immediately, to formulating legal opinions”.
Argument against the crown’s position was provided by a lawyer with special security clearance, known as an amicus curiae, because Meng’s lawyers were banned from seeing the documents in question. The amicus was paid by Meng, but technically did not represent her and instead acted as an adviser to the court.
Some of the emails related to a US treaty request for documents created during Meng’s dealings with Canadian border officers before her arrest at Vancouver’s airport on December 1, 2018. The amicus argued that Canada had waived privilege over these emails, because the attorney general had already disclosed a document outlining the US request.
Holmes disagreed. “I cannot agree with the amici that the withheld communications and the disclosed communications are all the same meat loaf, but in different ‘Tupperware’ containers. If the [US treaty] request is the meat loaf, its legal evaluation is the separately served gravy.”
The judge rejected Canada’s privilege claims for a portion of only one document, an email by the director general of the Canadian Justice Department’s International Assistance Group, Janet Henchey.
A spokesman for Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Canada asserted that solicitor-client and litigation privilege are fundamental principles that protect the ability of individuals, corporations and governments to seek legal advice confidentially,” the departmental statement said.
“They also help ensure the effectiveness of the legal process, which is adversarial in nature, by creating a zone of privacy to allow parties to prepare their contending positions in private.”
In August, Meng lost a similar application in federal court seeking disclosure of unredacted Canadian spy agency documents related to her arrest. Government lawyers argued that they should be withheld on national security grounds and had the potential to damage Canada’s relations with China.
Meng is due back in court on October 26, as her battle continues against the US bid to have her extradited from Vancouver to New York to face fraud charges.
The arrest of Meng, who is Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, upended China’s relations with Canada and the US.
US authorities accuse Meng of defrauding HSBC bank by lying about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, potentially putting the bank at risk of breaching US sanctions against the Middle East country. She has denied the charges.
She is under partial house arrest in Vancouver, living in one of the two multimillion-dollar homes she owns in the city.
Her extradition case is expected to continue well into 2021, but appeals could drag out the process for years.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Huawei executive’s extradition is no ‘garden-variety’ case because of Donald Trump, her lawyer says
- Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou is wasting court’s time with doomed extradition manoeuvres, Canada lawyer says
- US misled Canadian court about its case against Meng Wanzhou so badly she must be freed, say her lawyers
- Canada court rejects Meng Wanzhou’s bid to see documents about arrest that officials fear could damage ties with China
This article Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou loses court bid to see Canada-US emails about her arrest first appeared on South China Morning Post