Meng Wanzhou’s lawyer suggests border official’s testimony is a ‘fabrication’

VANCOUVER – An attorney for a Huawei CEO, whose arrest at Vancouver airport two years ago shook Canada’s relations with China, accused a border official of testifying in the extradition trial earlier today that it was “a whole invention.”

Defense attorney Mona Duckett made the allegation in her cross-examination of Supt. Bryce McRae of the Canada Border Services Agency as Meng Wanzhou is fighting extradition to the United States, where she is wanted for fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, which she denies.

McRae testified that he had contacted the border agency’s national security unit to ask for guidance on how to interrogate Meng, but did not write down what he was told.

He recalls that the specialist he spoke to suggested asking Meng where she is at home around the world.

McRae told the British Columbia Supreme Court that he orally shared the questions with at least one of the two border officials who conducted the customs and immigration checks.

But Duckett told McRae that she believed the specialist didn’t ask questions, but told McRae that Meng’s investigation should be stopped.

“I suggest when you spoke to her she told you to finish this exam,” said Duckett.

“I don’t remember ever receiving this information,” replied McRae.

Duckett referred to McRae’s own notes, which recorded the time of his calls to the National Security Unit at 1:35 p.m. and 2:01 p.m. on December 1, 2018, the day of Meng’s investigation and arrest.

She asked if McRae had an explanation at 1:09 pm for “why the question was asked what apartments Ms. Meng owns anywhere in the world”

“No,” replied McRae.

“I propose because your evidence of the advice you received is quite a fabrication,” said Duckett.

McRae told the court that the officers under his supervision had asked Meng their own questions and did not rely solely on instructions from the National Security Unit.

Meng’s legal team is gathering evidence of abuse of trial claims in court, alleging the RCMP and border guards coordinated their actions to obtain evidence against her when she was arrested.

Meng and Huawei deny allegations they lied to HSBC, putting the bank at risk for violating American sanctions against Iran.

In evidence hearings last month, a Canadian border official said he accidentally shared Meng’s cell phone passcodes with RCMP officials and that there was no conspiracy to circumvent privacy laws.

Relations between Canada and China have eroded since Meng’s arrest, and China’s arrest of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor is widely viewed as retaliation for their imprisonment.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 16, 2020.

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