A Canadian judge has denied Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s request for access to multiple confidential documents, a new setback in her fight against extradition to the United States. Meng, the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom giant, was arrested on a US warrant during a stopover in Vancouver in December 2018.
She has been charged with bank fraud related to a breach of US sanctions against Iran, and has since been fighting extradition.
Late Thursday, Canada’s Justice Department announced that British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes had “upheld most of Canada’s claims of privilege” related to the request for documents.
The court delivered the verdict on Friday.
Meng’s lawyers sought access to hundreds of documents related to most of the communications between Canadian and US agencies before and after Meng’s arrest, arguing that it was in violation of his rights to collect and interrogate evidence. There may be evidence of an alleged conspiracy.
In particular, he pointed to his detention and interrogation without a lawyer three hours after he landed on a flight from Hong Kong, but before being charged, as well as the seizure of his electronic devices three hours later.
If the charges are proven, the extradition proceedings may be stayed.
Lawyers for the Canadian government had issued several documents in recent months, but many of them were heavily revised. He denied any conspiracy and claimed attorney-client and litigation privileges in refusing to hand over more files.
After some back and forth, the number of documents sought was reduced to 19, consisting mostly of emails between or between Justice Department lawyers and the Canada Border Services Agency.
Holmes ruled that only one of them could be left to defend.
The case has escalated serious tensions in Sino-US relations and created an unprecedented rift between Canada and China.
Nine days after Meng’s arrest, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor in what is widely seen as retaliation for Meng.
Espionage charges were filed against the pair in June, shortly after Meng’s first legal setback, when his bid to get the case thrown out – arguing that the US charges were not a crime in Canada – was defeated.
Meng is under house arrest in Vancouver, while the extradition case is due for hearing in April 2021.
He is expected to appear before the court on October 26 for the next stage of proceedings.
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