Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou sues Canada’s national border service, police, and government
Claiming that she was detained in a manner that violated her rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou filed a civil claim with the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Through her lawyers, she alleges that the government worked together with the Canadian Border Service Agency and the RCMP to falsely imprison her. She claims that her arrest and detention was a wrongful exercise of authority and that Canadian officials collected evidence from her in a way that violated the Charter.
It will be interesting to see how the case proceeds, as the tense political situation between Canada and China entered a new chapter following the shocking revelations of the SNC-Lavalin scandal plaguing the Trudeau government.
At the request of the US, Canada arrested and detained Huawei’s CFO, who has since been facing extradition to the US to face charges of being involved in a corporate scheme to circumvent sanctions against Iran.
Huawei is China’s largest telecommunications company and is well-connected to the Chinese government. It is clear that Meng’s arrest was taken by the Chinese to be a direct attack on their national interests.
Since then, China has detained several Canadians, and has even put one accused drug smuggler on death row. In Canada, those actions are largely seen as a direct retaliation against Meng’s detention.
SNC-Lavalin screws it up for Canada
Trudeau has repeatedly declined China’s requests for Meng’s release, citing that Canada is a country that respects the rule of law, and that Canadians would not accept any political interference in our judicial system.
As if on cue, explosive allegations arose that Trudeau was directly involved in a concerted and sustained effort to blackmail his former attorney general to force the civil service to drop charges against Liberal-connected construction giant SNC-Lavalin.
The Montreal-based engineering firm was charged with bribing Libyan officials under the Gaddafi regime, which included almost $2 million of bribes to the son of Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Part of that $2 million even included $30,000 to buy prostitutes for the young “prince” when he visited Canada a decade ago.
It did not take long for international media to spot the hypocrisy. The Canadian prime minister, who had spent most of the new year virtue-signalling our country’s respect for judicial independence, was now caught with his pants down.
Having fired his former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has since become a household name, he replaced her with a Montreal lapdog who has a big SNC-Lavalin office in his riding.
It is not a surprise that China has taken the opportunity to use the recent scandal to their advantage, and as China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, “not only Chinese and Canadian citizens, but the whole world are extremely interested to hear how the Canadian government answers” these allegations.
So far, the answers have been:
(1) nothing to see here
(2) the AG was difficult to work with
(3) they suddenly realized that the AG didn’t speak French
(4) she wouldn’t have been fired if Brison didn’t resign
(5) the political interference was just a matter of perspective
Let’s see how many more they can add to the list before this year’s federal election.
Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou may be one step closer to freedom from her ankle bracelet and house arrest in her Vancouver mansion now that a B.C. judge approved her lawyers’ application this week for more documents to be released, which could potentially reveal more coordination between Canadian and American authorities in the lead up to her arrest on Dec. 1 of 2018.
“When you drill down, the defence is saying, ‘You are not disclosing everything to us. We think that you knew about Meng Wanzhou was coming to Canada… and the US intelligence agencies, commercial agencies knew she was coming, so you cooked something up to sucker punch her,” Christopher Hicks, Toronto criminal lawyer and founding partner of Hicks Adams LLP who’s not involved in Meng’s case, said to The Post Millennial.
“They’re asking for a whole bunch of material. If it really does exist, and they’re going to get their hands on it, it could be explosive.”
Meng, whose father founded the Shenzhen-based company, was first arrested from the extradition request of the US authorities who are accusing her of fraud, breaking the rules of sanctions against Iran.
The Globe and Mail published a lengthy article, on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Meng’s arrest, which included Canadian and American sources claiming the plan to arrest Meng came together very last minute, with only a day’s notice given to Canadian authorities that the US wanted her arrested when her flight landed in Canada.
This narrative of very short notice, Hicks says, could crumble depending on what is found in the new documents Meng’s counsel has forced the authorities involved to produce, including the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and RCMP.
The Globe and Mail article also paraphrased part of an interview with Scott Kennedy, China expert of Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, who told the newspaper there were three ways this international fracas between the two most powerful nations in the world could be resolved: “Canadian courts could say the U.S. has not provided proof to warrant an extradition, and set her free; Huawei can negotiate a plea deal with the U.S. Justice Department that leads to a withdrawal of the extradition request; or a deal between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi could lead to her freedom.”
But legal experts such as Hicks, as well as Meng’s own all-star legal counsel, would argue there’s a fourth alternative that’s a distinct possibility. If Meng’s Charter rights are found to have been violated in the three hours she was detained before being arrested, she could be set free and the evidence gathered from her electronics found inadmissible.
In affidavits and notes from RCMP and CBSA officers already in the court record, and obtained by The Post Millennial, there are several parts of the execution of the arrest of Meng that the defence alleges the Canadian authorities failed in their duty to perform due process.
The first point of contention is that the CBSA did not tell Meng her rights when they detained her (which Meng’s lawyers’ are arguing was under false pretense) for a customs inspection.
“Never mind if you’re under arrest, if you’re a suspect, and the police are talking to you, they have to tell you that you have your rights,” said Hicks.
“You’re supposed to arrest someone, not sucker them into making statements, or handing over their electronic information.”
RCMP officers’ notes show the initial plan to arrest Meng would have involved an RCMP officer arresting her on the plane as soon as it landed at Vancouver International Airport.
On the morning of Dec. 1, the day of the arrest, the RCMP and CBSA devised a new, revised plan, in which Meng would first be detained by the CBSA.
Her lawyers assert this last-minute new plan ended up violating the court order in the warrant, which called for Wanzhou’s “immediate arrest” upon arriving in Canada.
Affidavits and notes from Canadian authorities also reveal that during that detention period CBSA officers gathered evidence, including Meng’s and her business associates electronics, which they then passed along to the RCMP who were working on behalf of US authorities instructions. The RCMP also provided mylar bags–special foil bags to preserve the contents of electronics from intercepting signals of remote devices that are capable of wiping or altering the contents–to the CBSA.
The CBSA also compelled Meng to provide her password to her phones and then passed this information along to the RCMP. According to documents authorities’ communications before the court, Meng was arrested seven minutes later by the RCMP after giving her password to the CBSA officers, who didn’t look at the contents of her electronic devices for their customs inspection, but instead retrieved them for other means.
During the September court hearing a Crown Prosecutor admitted it was a “mistake” by the CBSA officers to share the password with the RCMP.
The court documents also reveal that the CBSA withheld her luggage despite their being no customs violations found because the officers were coordinating with the RCMP who went up the chain of command to the Canadian Department of Justice to see if the FBI wanted the luggage.
The defence also argues that Meng repeatedly asked why she was being detained by the CBSA but wasn’t given the real reason behind the supposed routine custom inspection or told her Charter rights.
Meng’s defence team also asserts the officers’ affidavits are leaving out key, unfavourable information, which led to the latest court application for further documnetation being approved by the judge.
“So the arrest warrant was for an immediate arrest,” Richard Kurland, a lawyer and federal policy analyst not involved in the case, said to the Vancouver Courrier in October. “Immediate means immediate means immediate. It doesn’t mean after she gets off the plane. It doesn’t mean after she collects her luggage. It doesn’t mean after her customs examination, and it doesn’t mean after several hours of questioning. That’s not immediate.”
Former Liberal deputy prime minister John Manley recently said in an interview that Canada should have avoided detaining Meng through “creative incompetence” by purposefully bungling detaining her, letting her slip away to her destination in Mexico.
In light of the evidence presented thus far in the court, and more possible records of coordination between Canada and US authorities being revealed in the near future, the intended or unintended bungling of the arrest of Meng could ultimately be what gets Canada out of its current predicament with China; a predicament that has thus far led to stiff trade sanctions against Canadian farmers and the retaliatory arrests of former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, still stuck in harsh conditions in Chinese prison cells.
Chinese tech giant Huawei tweeted on Monday regarding the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, calling her detainment “an unlawful and illegal act.”
The tweet links to a Globe and Mail article that goes over the moments leading up to Wanzhou’s arrest, but doesn’t provide any evidence her detainment was “unlawful” or an “illegal act”. The article is behind a paywall, so only subscribers can actually have access to the story and that it doesn’t match Huawei’s bold claims.
Reaction to the post from Canadians online was generally one of outrage.
Many replied to Huawei’s tweets, upset with the company’s audacity to complain about Wanzhou’s detention while two Canadians remain in Chinese prison, with another, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, sentenced to death for drug trafficking charges.
Nowhere in the article does it explicitly state that the detention of Wanzhou was illegal, with the word “illegal” not appearing once. Rather, the article features details regarding America’s role in Meng’s arrest, with quotes from Chinese diplomats calling the arrest “unreasonable” due to the lack of notice from the Canadian side during her arrest.
“In accordance with the consular agreement between China and Canada, the Canadian side should inform the Chinese diplomatic missions in Canada immediately of its unreasonable detention of Ms. Meng Wanzhou,” said the Chinese embassy in a statement. “But the Canadian government failed to do that, the Chinese side first learned about the situation from other channels. We lodged stern representations with the Canadian side as soon as we learned about the relevant information.”
The Globe‘s article does note that those familiar with extradition practices call Meng’s arrest a “rare” incident, as Washington “typically pursues criminal charges for sanction violations against an individual rather than a corporation.”
“In a case like this one, where Ms. Meng is in all likelihood executing corporate policy, one would expect individuals not to be charged and the corporation would be fined,” said extradition expert Eric Lewis.
Huawei CFO and Chinese tech royalty Meng Wanzhou says the last year of conviction has been a year of “fear and pain.” as she remains cooped up in her Vancouver-area home under house arrest.
Meng was arrested in December of 2018 on an extradition request from the United States regarding the breaking of sanctions with Iran.“The past year has witnessed moments of fear, pain, disappointment, helplessness, torment, and struggle,” said a letter by Meng, posted on the Huawei website titled “Your warmth is a beacon that lights my way forward.”
Meng also noted in her letter that she has switched from her hectic lifestyle of business dealings to long days of oil painting and reading books.
“When I was in Shenzhen, time used to pass by very quickly. Every day, my schedule was fully packed and I was constantly rushing from place to place, and from meeting to meeting… Right now, time seems to pass slowly. It is so slow that I have enough time to read a book from cover to cover. I can take the time to discuss minutiae with my colleagues or to carefully complete an oil painting.”
The letter talks about accepting the situation she is in and saying she is “no longer afraid of the unknown,” and mentions her gratitude.
“Of course I’ve also been deeply moved by the kindness of people here in Canada. Thanks to the kindness of the correctional officers and other inmates at the Alouette Correctional Center for Women, I was able to make it through the worst days of my life.”
Following Meng’s arrest, two Canadians—businessman Michael Spavor and consultant Michael Kovrig—were detained in China.
Northern telecom ready to deploy Huawei 5G while Ottawa dithers on decision whether to ban it altogether
The president of the Canadian telecom partnering with Huawei to upgrade high-speed wireless service for dozens of communities in the far north says they’re waiting for Ottawa’s decision on 5G and could deploy it in the hinterland in short order.
“We’re testing a few things, so (Huawei 5G) is not going live anytime soon, but it’s definitely in our labs,” said Samer Bishay, President and CEO of Ice Wireless.
“Just because it’s the north doesn’t mean they should get the technology a decade later. It doesn’t make sense.”
But as Huawei 5G has raised national security concerns, Bishay said Ice Wireless is “doing its part as a good corporate citizen” by not deploying it and blames “the political stuff that’s kind of driving the whole discussion around it right now.”
“We don’t have anything that says you can’t deploy (5G), and we don’t have anything that says you can. That’s why we’re just experimenting.”
While Rogers has opted to employ Ericsson 5G on its networks, other companies like Ice Wireless await a final decision on Huawei 5G that Ottawa has dithered on making.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and the Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to TPM queries about when the government would make a final determination.
Huawei 3G/4G LTE has previously received certification by the Canada’s Communications Security Establishment Commission, technology that Ice Wireless is currently deploying in the north.
Back in July, Huawei Canada vice-president Alykhan Velshi announced the joint-venture with Bishay’s company to upgrade communications services in northern Quebec and the Arctic where the big three players–Rogers, Telus and Bell–are reticent to tread.
“We cover a large landmass, places that not even Rogers or Telus ventured to build. A lot of those guys roam on our network up there,” Bishay told The Post Millennial in an interview.
However, citing national security vulnerabilities United States, Austrailia and New Zealand–part of the Five Eyes signals and intelligence network that includes the UK and Canada–have banned Huawei from their 5G networks; Britain is also mulling a Huawei ban on its core network.
The 5G technology is purportedly capable of activating “the internet of things”–a Bluetooth world where all our gadgets are operable via smart phone–by enabling up to 10 gigabytes-per-second of data transfer on wifi, fibre optics and satellite conduits.
The downside of this technology, is proliferation of such gadgetry widens an already deep field of existing cyber-threats to national security, involving not just thrill hackers but hostile state actors with strategic intention.
And a recent analysis of the Chinese tech-behemoth’s ownership structure by Fulbright University economist Christopher Balding and George Washington University law professor Donald Clark, found it leads straight to China’s politburo.
“If Huawei (Trade Union) Holding (Company) is in fact controlled by a trade union committee, then given the way such bodies are supposed to operate in China, it makes sense to think of it as state-controlled and even state-owned,” Balding and Clark conclude.
Adding to concerns about Huawei, is a CBC interview that aired at the beginning of November with Susan Rice, former U.S. national security advisor to President Barack Obama, in which she caged Huawei 5G as a clear and present danger.
“It’s hard for me to emphasize adequately, without getting into classified terrain, how serious it is, particularly for countries involved in the Five Eyes,” said Rice, who explained the threat, then suggested the signals intelligence alliance (Five Eyes) between U.S., Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia would be jeopardized if Canada went ahead with Huawei 5G.
“That would put the security collaboration which serves the security interests of every Canadian and every American, into jeopardy… I don’t see how we can share (intelligence) in the way we have (if Canada allows Huawei 5G). It’s not a joke. It’s truly serious.”
To counter the negative publicity, Huawei Canada went on a charm offensive of sorts this week, ballyhooing the $50 million it has spent on research at Canadian universities to date and the $700 million it added to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product in 2018.