The defence team for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has filed a notice of civil claim alleging “serious violations” of her constitutional rights, accusing officers of detaining and questioning her for three hours before notifying her of her arrest.
The suit filed with the B.C. Supreme Court on Friday is against members of the Canadian Border Services Agency, the RCMP and the federal government.
It seeks damages for false imprisonment based on multiple alleged failures of government officials to comply with the rule of law upon her detention, search and interrogation at the Vancouver airport on Dec. 1.
The allegations have not been proven in court and the CBSA, RCMP and the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“This case concerns a deliberate and pre-meditated effort on the part of the defendant officers to obtain evidence and information from the plaintiff in a manner which they knew constituted serious violations of the plaintiff’s rights,” the claim says.
It alleges that RCMP officers and/or representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice arranged for Canadian border officials to delay the immediate execution of the arrest warrant “under the guise of a routine border check.”
The court document says that when Meng exited her plane at Vancouver airport, border officials checked each passenger’s passport on the jetway and after identifying Meng, brought her to an inspection area.
It says border officers prohibited Meng from speaking with her travel companion or anyone else, including a lawyer.
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The officers “did not promptly inform the plaintiff of the reason for her detention, afford her an opportunity to retain and instruct legal counsel without delay, or inform her of her right to do so under the charter,” the claim says.
Instead, they directed Meng to surrender all of her electronic devices and computers, as well as her passwords, “which the plaintiff provided, believing she had no choice as the CBSA officers had intentionally failed to advise her of the true reasons for her detention, her right to counsel, and her right to silence,” it says.
The claim alleges officers opened and viewed contents on her devices and also searched her luggage.
Border officers also questioned Meng and the claim alleges that the “specific nature of the questions” was informed by documentation or briefings from Canadian and/or American authorities familiar with the U.S. charges facing Meng.
Although the RCMP was aware of Meng’s scheduled arrival time at Vancouver airport, an RCMP officer did not enter the inspection area and present Meng with the provisional arrest warrant for three hours, it says.
The suit alleges that as officers of the peace, the border officials should have immediately presented Meng with the provisional arrest warrant instead of detaining, searching and interrogating her under the guise of a customs or immigration exam.
“This was both significant and deliberate,” the claim says.
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The lawsuit may be part of a strategy by Meng’s lawyers to delay extradition proceedings, Toronto-based criminal lawyer and commentator Ari Goldkind said on the Roy Green Show on Sunday.
On Friday, the Canadian Department of Justice gave the go-ahead for an extradition case against Meng, marking the formal start of the high-profile process that has put Canada in an uncomfortable position between the United States and China.
The U.S. Department of Justice has laid out 13 criminal counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction against Huawei and Meng, who is the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said it is “utterly dissatisfied” with Friday’s decision, calling the case “a political persecution against a Chinese high-tech enterprise.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly maintained Canada is simply following the rule of law.
Meng’s extradition case is scheduled to resume in the B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday.
— With files from Global News reporter Rahul Kalvapalle