(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver
By Sarah Berman
VANCOUVER (Reuters) – A Canadian police supervisor who oversaw the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou testified on Wednesday that she recalled a conversation about information collected from Meng’s electronic devices that had been sent to the FBI.
Meng, 48, was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018, at Vancouver International Airport on a warrant from the United States. She is facing charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
Her lawyers have argued that U.S. and Canadian authorities coordinated ahead of her arrest, using the extended investigative powers of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to interrogate her without a lawyer present before her arrest and passing identifying details of her electronic devices to U.S. officials.
Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting the extradition, arguing the abuses of process that her lawyers say occurred violated her civil rights and should invalidate it.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Janice Vander Graaf testified that she recalled a conversation with RCMP Constable Gurvinder Dhaliwal nearly two weeks after Meng’s arrest. She said Dhaliwal told her on Dec. 12, 2018, that a staff sergeant in the RCMP financial integrity unit had sent serial numbers from Meng’s phones to a legal attache with the FBI.
Vander Graaf said she later reviewed emails that she found were inconsistent with Dhaliwal’s account that the serial numbers were sent. Dhaliwal previously testified he did not recall that conversation with his supervisor.
Ben Chang, the RCMP staff sergeant who defense lawyers allege sent the information to the FBI and who Vander Graaf said was charged with overseeing authorization for an evidence transfer to U.S. authorities, has declined to testify. Chang who is now retired, denied the defense allegation in an affidavit submitted to courts.
Court documents show government prosecutors initially declined to share notes with the defense relating to Chang due to concerns about witness safety.
DID NOT REQUEST PASSCODES
CBSA officers previously testified in court that they noted down Meng’s passcodes and serial numbers as part of due diligence while interviewing her, and gave them to the RCMP by mistake.
Earlier, Vander Graaf testified that neither she nor any fellow officers requested the passcodes from the CBSA.
Vander Graaf said she advised Dhaliwal to keep the passcodes and explain how the RCMP got them.
“I told him that he couldn’t unseize something he had already seized, so he should log those passcodes and explain how he came into possession of those,” she told the court. “If you have them, you have them.”
Dhaliwal previously testified that he received the passcodes from a border agent shortly after Meng’s arrest.
Vander Graaf also said she was instructed by her superior to call an official with the FBI and give an update on Meng’s arrest status.
She said she left a voicemail with the FBI representative and did “not recall if I actually spoke to him.”
On Tuesday, Vander Graaf said she relayed a suggestion from her superior that officers apprehend Meng on the plane, but said she herself thought that was “overstepping authority.”
Witnesses from the CBSA and RCMP have testified over almost three weeks on the events surrounding Meng’s detention and arrest. Witness testimony is set to last until Friday, with the potential for two to three more days scheduled in December.
Diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing have deteriorated since Meng’s arrest. China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on espionage charges days later.
Meng’s extradition hearing is expected to wrap up in April 2021.
Canadian police supervisor recalls conversation of sending Huawei CFO’s phone details to FBI
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