September 24, 2019 / 7:10 PM / 19 days ago

Huawei CFO fighting U.S. extradition accuses Canada of improper conduct

VANCOUVER, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou returned to a Vancouver court on Tuesday as her lawyers argued Canada abused its immigration processes to gather evidence against her, a claim the government says is without an “air of reality.”

Meng, 47, was detained at Vancouver’s airport on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States. She was charged with bank fraud and accused of misleading HSBC Holdings Plc about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business in Iran. She has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition.

At Tuesday’s hearing before Justice Heather Holmes in British Columbia Supreme Court, Meng lawyers pressed for more disclosure from the government.

Meng’s lawyer Richard Peck told the judge no one answered Meng when she repeatedly asked border officials why she was being detained. “She was not told she was the subject of an arrest warrant,” Peck said. “She was not told this was a warrant that came out of the U.S. that had to do with activities some years ago.”

Meng sat in the well of the courtroom in a short black dress with glittering sequins around the neckline and sleeves. She had a black case of an electronic monitoring device strapped to her left ankle.

The three-day hearing is scheduled to end on Wednesday and expected to resume Sept. 30.

Meng was searched and questioned by border officers when she landed in Vancouver from Hong Kong. She was not arrested on a provisional warrant and told her rights until about three hours after her arrival.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Meng lawyers played portions of a video without sound of Meng from when Meng was detained at the airport.

‘FISHING EXPEDITION’

In a filing submitted on Monday, Meng’s lawyers said they want to know why Canadian police allowed the lengthy border examination, and why the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation wanted contact information for officers on the day she arrived.

In another submission released on Monday, the attorney general of Canada said there was no evidence border officials or police acted improperly, or that the conduct of Canadian or foreign officials compromised the fairness of the extradition proceedings.

The defense claims that, if the process was abused, it justifies halting extradition proceedings. Besides accusations of misconduct related to her detention, they argue the United States is using Meng for economic and political gain, noting that after her arrest, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would intervene if it would help close a trade deal.

The government claims there is no justification for halting extradition proceedings. In its filing, it called the defense’s effort for more disclosure a “fishing expedition.”

The arrest has strained China’s relations with both the United States and Canada. In Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated the government’s call for Meng to be released and allowed to return to China.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, spent 10 days in jail in December but was then released on C$10 million ($7.5 million) bail and is living in one of her two multimillion-dollar homes in Vancouver.

Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, has been accused by the United States of activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests. It is also a defendant in the U.S. case against Meng. Huawei denies the charges.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld Writing by Chris Sanders Editing by Denny Thomas and Lisa Shumaker

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