Canada judge rejects Huawei CFO's request to add evidence in extradition case

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A Canadian judge rejected Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s request to add evidence in her extradition case, as a federal prosecutor argued on Tuesday that Meng’s legal team had presented a story of her arrest that did not fit the facts.

FILE PHOTO: Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada March 22, 2021. REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier

Meng’s lawyers wanted to include an affidavit from a Huawei accountant as evidence, which they said would shed light on the company’s financial practices and help prove Meng’s innocence as she fights extradition from Canada on charges of bank fraud in the United States.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the British Columbia Supreme Court rejected the affidavit, the third such request made by Meng’s legal team, stating the evidence “is not relevant” to the extradition hearing. Much of the team’s other requests were similarly rejected.

Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 on a U.S. warrant that alleges she misled HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.

Meng says she is innocent. She is being held under house arrest in Vancouver, where she has been fighting extradition for two years.

Prosecutor Robert Frater, representing the Canadian government, said the witnesses who testified at Meng’s extradition hearings acknowledged errors candidly and were “anything but liars,” as charged by Meng’s legal team in court.

Frater said the defense laid out an “exciting” narrative, involving a covert criminal investigation, lying and a cross-border cover-up. He called it a stark contrast from the more “prosaic” one from the prosecution, which described public officials doing their jobs without a playbook on how to handle such a rare case.

Meng’s legal team argued last week that misconduct by police and border officials during Meng’s arrest and interrogation, including an alleged delay of her detainment by police, violated her rights and that her devices were seized without proper authority and her device passcodes improperly obtained.

Frater said the arrest was carried out in a reasonable amount of time that took into consideration the responsibilities of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). He said the agency had the authority to obtain her passcodes and that they were passed on to Canadian police by mistake.

The mistake did not violate Meng’s rights because evidence showed police did not use them or pass them on to the FBI, he added.

Meng’s arrest frayed diplomatic ties between Ottawa and Beijing. Shortly after she was detained, China arrested two Canadians on espionage charges. They both faced trial in the past week, although it is not known when their verdicts will be announced.

The prosecution is expected to resume arguments on Wednesday. Meng’s case is set to wrap up in May.

Reporting by Moira Warburton and Sarah Berman in Vancouver; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney