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RCMP officer says he advised meeting with CBSA on Meng Wanzhou arrest to avoid problems

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VANCOUVER — The Mountie who says he warned against arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou by boarding her plane when it landed in Vancouver says he made his own decision to come into the airport and help that day.

Sgt. Ross Lundie agreed under cross-examination at a B.C. Supreme Court hearing Friday that the RCMP members making the arrest in December 2018 did not ask him to be present that day.

But he said when the arresting officers called him the night before the incident asking for advice, he suggested they arrange a meeting with Canada Border Services Agency officials for the next morning and decided he would attend.

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“It was obviously very important from what I’d heard,” Lundie testified.

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“Were you concerned that by asserting yourself, that would assist in avoiding some kind of major problem between CBSA and RCMP?” Meng’s lawyer Richard Peck asked.

“I wanted to ensure that went smoothly as well, yes.”

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Lundie, an officer with national security experience based at the airport, said he believed it was important to keep CBSA in the loop because he understood they had their own mandate and responsibilities.

His testimony is part of an evidence-gathering hearing in Meng’s extradition case where her lawyers are gathering information to bolster their allegations that Canadian officials improperly collected evidence against her.

Meng is wanted on fraud charges in the United States that both she and Huawei deny.

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Meng’s lawyers allege that an early plan to arrest her aboard the plane was changed to allow for a “covert criminal investigation” under the guise of a routine immigration exam at the behest of U.S. authorities.

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Ultimately, Meng would undergo screening by border officers for nearly three hours before she was informed of her arrest and right to counsel.

Border officers working at the airport that day have testified they had their own concerns about Meng’s admissibility to Canada and deny the allegations made by her lawyers.

Lundie told the court that he always discourages his officers from conducting arrests aboard flights unless there is an immediate public safety concern.

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Meng herself didn’t pose any risk to his knowledge, he said, but planes are tight spaces and there can be dangers. It’s safer to conduct an arrest in the gate, border screening area or elsewhere, he said.

Lundie testified the arresting officers phoned him the night before the arrest while they were driving to the airport to confirm if Meng would be on the flight. That’s when he learned of the plan to board the plane, he said.

Peck suggested that couldn’t be. Phone records show that the arresting officers’ boss, Sgt. Janice Vander Graaf, phoned them later that night after speaking with her own superior, whom court has heard was the source of the plane-arrest plan.

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If Vander Graaf’s records are correct, then Lundie couldn’t have learned the arrest plan when he said he did, earlier that evening, Peck suggested.

“My final suggestion is that you’re confused in your memory,” Peck said.

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“OK,” Lundie said.

Court has also heard that phone records suggested Lundie did have three-minute phone call with a national security Mountie in Ottawa with knowledge of the case that night. Lundie said he has no memory of the call.

The hearing will continue on Dec. 7.