Meng Wanzhou case: arresting Huawei exec on plane would have been too risky, Canadian officer tells court

Ian Young
·3-min read

The officer in charge of the Canadian police detachment at Vancouver’s airport when Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested almost two years ago has defended his advice that Meng should not be taken into custody until she had disembarked from her flight.

Testifying in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver on Friday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Ross Lundie said there were “well-documented” risks involved with arresting someone in the confines of a plane.

Meng was arrested on December 1, 2018, but only after she had exited the Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong and had been questioned for almost three hours by border officers.

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Meng’s lawyers have presented the decision to delay the arrest until after the inspection – during which she was questioned and her electronic devices seized – as a covert evidence-gathering exercise orchestrated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in violation of Meng’s rights. They say the decision also flouted the arrest warrant’s directive that Meng should be arrested “immediately”.

The US extradition request should be thrown out as a result, they say.

Canadian officer denies ‘cover up’ about Meng’s Wanzhou’s phones and FBI

On Friday, Meng’s lawyer, Richard Peck, asked Lundie about his advice to the arresting officer, Constable Winston Yep, and his partner, Constable Gurvinder Dhaliwal, that Meng should only be arrested on the plane if there was “a safety or security issue” that made it necessary.

“It’s a very tight space … Definitely not on a plane unless you cannot avoid it,” Lundie said.

Lundie was on the stand on the final day of two weeks of witness testimony in the extradition case. The court has heard from a series of Canada Border Services Agency officers and police who played various roles in the border exam and subsequent arrest of Meng on an American warrant, which upended China’s relations with Canada and the United States.

However one key officer, retired staff sergeant Ben Chang, has refused to testify. In a court filing in June, Canadian government lawyers representing US interests in the case said they held “witness safety” concerns for Chang, who now lives in the Chinese territory of Macau, and works as a security executive at the Galaxy casino resort.

Canada feared for safety of Meng witness in Macau who refuses to testify

The US seeks to put Meng on trial in New York on charges that she defrauded HSBC by lying about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, putting the bank at risk of breaching US sanctions.

Meng, who denies the charges, is living under partial house arrest in one of the two houses she owns in Vancouver while she fights the extradition bid.

The treatment of Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, has infuriated China. Soon after her detention, Beijing arrested Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and accused them of spying. Ottawa considers the arrests retaliatory and both men to be victims of hostage-taking.

The hearing was adjourned by Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes, who bound Meng over until December 7, when another week of witness testimony will begin.

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