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Canadian officer who arrested Huawei's Meng Wanzhou said she might have put up fight, but boss said there were 'no safety concerns'
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Canadian officer who arrested Huawei's Meng Wanzhou said she might have put up fight, but boss said there were 'no safety concerns'
A Canadian police officer who said he decided not to arrest Meng Wanzhou until after she had got off a plane at Vancouver's airport because she might have "put up a fight" was presented with an email from one of his superior officers in court on Tuesday, saying there were "no officer safety concerns" about the impending operation.The Huawei executive's legal team resumed their grilling of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Constable Winston Yep, as they attempt to prove Meng was the victim of a covert operation designed to gather evidence against her at the command of US prosecutors.They claim her three-hour pre-arrest detention at Vancouver's airport on December 1, 2018, during which she was questioned by border officers who seized her electronic devices and passwords, violated her Canadian Charter rights and breached the terms of a warrant which said she should be arrested "immediately".Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.A US extradition request for her to be sent to New York to face trial for fraud should be thrown out as a result, they say.Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver airport on December 1, 2018, before her arrest. Photo: Supreme Court of British Columbia alt=Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver airport on December 1, 2018, before her arrest. Photo: Supreme Court of British ColumbiaThe extradition case is being heard before Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver, where Yep on Monday became the first witness in the case.He told the court that the decision not to arrest Meng until after she got off her flight from Hong Kong was partly made on safety grounds, because he did not know whether Meng would resist on the plane or if she was travelling with bodyguards. He said he understood the order to arrest Meng "immediately" to mean "as soon as practical".As he continued his cross examination of Yep on Tuesday, Meng's lawyer Richard Peck presented the officer with a November 30, 2018 email from one of Yep's superiors, Staff Sergeant Peter Lee, that described the RCMP going on the plane to arrest Meng. That was a "suggestion" said Yep.Lee had also written to another officer, further up the chain of command, that there were "no officer safety concerns" about the impending arrest. But Yep said he did not agree with that assessment."I can't speak for what he meant by that. He's not the one doing the arrest," said Yep. He added: "I never indicated there [weren't] officer safety concerns ... I wouldn't know why he wrote that."Meng's lawyers claim the decision to let border officers question Meng before arresting her three hours later was deliberately intended to aid US prosecutors, by gathering evidence for their case without a lawyer present.Instead of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers initially intercepting Meng, "you could easily have arrested her as she stepped off the plane onto the jetway", thereby preserving Meng's charter rights, Peck told Yep.But Yep disagreed. The airport was the jurisdiction of the CBSA, he said, and public safety had to be taken into account.He added: "I said, 'You guys [CBSA] take the lead. You do what you have to do'."In Monday's cross examination, Peck repeatedly questioned whether safety considerations about arresting Meng truly existed, asking Yep if it was something that "just popped into your head" on the witness box.Yep, who earlier testified that he did not know who Meng was before receiving the warrant on November 30, said he did not know what she was capable of, and did not know who she might be travelling with.The arrest of Meng, 48, Huawei Technologies' chief financial officer and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, upended China's relations with Canada and the US.Beijing subsequently arrested Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, accusing them of spying, but in Canada their situation is widely seen as hostage-taking.Meng is accused of defrauding HSBC bank by lying about Huawei's business dealings in Iran, putting the bank at risk of violating US sanctions.She is under partial house arrest in Vancouver, living in one of her two homes in the city. Her extradition proceedings are scheduled to last well into next year, but appeals could extend the process much longer.Huawei said in a statement on Monday that Meng's lawyers would "probe the extent to which the Trump administration directed RCMP and CBSA officers to engage in a deceptive and improper search, thereby violating a court order and Ms Meng's Charter rights".The border officers who questioned Meng and seized her devices before handing her off to Yep are also expected to be called as witnesses this week.This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2020 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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