Meng's lawyers haven't established 'necessary prejudice' to justify stay: Crown

·3 min read

VANCOUVER — There was "nothing nefarious" about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's request that Canadian officials seize Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou's electronic devices, a lawyer for Canada's attorney general said Tuesday.

Diba Majzub told the B.C. Supreme Court that the United States entered appropriate and legal requests under Canada's Extradition Act and its treaties for evidence relevant to its case.

"The request clearly was made transparently in the extradition request itself and was made in a manner contemplated by law," Majzub said.

There is also no evidence that the FBI gave any direction to Canadian officials on how the arrest should unfold, he added.

Majzub made the comments as part of the Crown's response to allegations by Meng's legal team that she was subjected to an abuse during her arrest.

Meng's team has argued extradition proceedings should be stayed because her rights were violated during the arrest at Vancouver's airport Dec. 1, 2018, three hours after her devices were seized and she was taken to secondary screening by border officers.

Her lawyers claim U.S. and Canadian officials co-ordinated a covert criminal investigation under the guise of a routine border exam.

It's one of four ways they will argue she was subjected to an abuse of process ahead of her actual extradition hearing in May.

Majzub said that without evidence that the FBI led such a plan, Meng's argument "unravels."

However, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes challenged him, suggesting there could still be improper conduct on the part of Canadian authorities without direction from the United States.

She said she expected to hear further submissions on that point and on the possible sharing of electronic serial numbers for Meng's devices.

Earlier Tuesday, another lawyer for Canada's attorney general, who also represents the United States in the case, asked the judge to "step out of the weeds" and focus on the legal test for assessing an abuse of process.

Robert Frater said the judge has been presented with two "vastly different narratives" about what happened.

"One is an exciting narrative. It involves a covert criminal investigation, witnesses lying on almost an industrial scale and a cross-border coverup," Frater said.

The Crown's narrative is more ordinary, he said, referring to their claim that Meng was held in screening only so that Canada Border Services could get its process out of the way before RCMP made the arrest.

"It includes two sets of public officials going about their required tasks in circumstances where there was no playbook for determining who should perform their task first," Frater said.

The judge must figure out which narrative, or which parts of each narrative, is true, he said.

But her main job in this hearing is to determine whether there is real prejudice in Meng's case that would be "aggravated" by allowing extradition proceedings to continue.

Any alleged misconduct by U.S. and Canadian officials has to be linked to the test of whether the applicant's right to a fair hearing or the integrity of the justice system has been compromised, Frater said.

"You're not here to conduct an audit of the RCMP and (Canada Border Services Agency) actions but to consider whether there is real prejudice," he said.

Meng's lawyers have failed to establish the necessary prejudice to justify a stay of proceedings, he said.

In a short ruling related to a different application in the case, Holmes dismissed a bid by Meng's legal team to admit additional evidence.

Holmes said in a written ruling that the evidence regarding loan records is not relevant to the extradition case.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2021.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press