Huawei CFO case: Canadian officer ‘uncomfortable’ assisting FBI

USA & World

Huawei CFO case: Canadian officer ‘uncomfortable’ assisting FBI

A police officer stationed at Vancouver’s airport on the day Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested two years ago testified on Monday that he found himself to be in a “very uncomfortable position” as the point of contact for the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Meng, 48, returned to the British Columbia Supreme Court on Monday for the final week of witness cross-examinations as part of her US extradition case, amidst news last week that her lawyers and US prosecutors held talks to reach a deal that could see her release and return to China.

“At the end of the day, I’m not there to provide information and act on behalf of the FBI. I’m there working as an RCMP member,” testified Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Ross Lundie.

“Assisting the FBI, given my background – this is a very uncomfortable position to be in,” he added.

Meng was arrested in December 2018 on a warrant from the US. She is facing charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC Holdings Plc about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break US sanctions.

She has said she is innocent and is fighting the extradition while under house arrest in Vancouver. Her lawyers have argued that her extradition should be thrown out based on abuses of process during her investigation and arrest, including inappropriate coordination between US and Canadian authorities.

They have also claimed the case has been politicised to the point where Meng would not receive a fair trial in the US, pointing to comments made by US President Donald Trump in an interview with Reuters news agency in December 2018 about his willingness to use Meng as a bargaining chip in trade talks with China.

US prosecutors are discussing a deal with lawyers for Meng to resolve criminal charges against her, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday, signalling a potential end to a case that has strained ties between the US, China and Canada.

Lundie testified two weeks ago that he received at least two calls from FBI officials during Meng’s investigation and arrest.

In previous weeks of witnesses’ cross-examinations, officials from the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) testified in court that the process leading up to Meng’s investigation and arrest was rushed but by the book.

Prosecutors are arguing that Meng’s extradition is valid and procedures were followed.

Meng’s arrest caused a chill in diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing. Shortly after Meng was detained, China arrested two Canadian men – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – who now face spying charges.

On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the release of the two Canadians was his “top priority”, while declining to comment on the talks to release Meng.

Meng’s case is scheduled to wrap up in April 2021.