By Tessa Vikander and Moira Warburton
VANCOUVER (Reuters) – A fifth and final scheduled day of witness testimony in the extradition case of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in a Canadian court will conclude on Friday, although lawyers for both sides proposed days be added to hear all witnesses.
Meng, 48, was arrested by Canadian police on a U.S. warrant in December 2018 while on a layover in Vancouver, bound for Mexico. The United States charged her with bank fraud, accusing her of misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
Meng has claimed innocence and is fighting the charges from Vancouver where she is under house arrest, monitored by private security at her home in the upscale neighborhood of Shaughnessy.
On Friday, defense lawyers will finish questioning Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer Scott Kirkland, who was involved in Meng’s interception and examination after she disembarked at the Vancouver International Airport. One more witness will be heard after Kirkland on Friday.
Meng scored a small victory on Thursday when British Columbia Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes sided with her on some claims but failed to dismiss the extradition case outright.
Meng’s lawyers have argued that abuses of process occurred in the three hours between the CBSA intercepting her and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arresting her.
Kirkland testified on Thursday that he had concerns about potential civil rights violations if the agency interviewed Meng before her arrest by Canadian police. He did not raise those concerns during the “rushed discussion” held before Meng’s flight landed.
Prosecutors for the Canadian government have tried to prove that Meng’s arrest was by the book, and any lapses in due process should not affect the validity of her extradition.
Meng’s arrest has strained diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing. Soon after her detention, China arrested two Canadian citizens on espionage charges.
This week’s testimony focused on the second of three categories of abuse of process that Meng’s lawyers allege took place.
Prosecutors said on Thursday that the witness testimony had gone slower than expected. The court may schedule at least one more week of hearings, in addition to a second week already set for the end of November.
Meng’s extradition hearings are meant to wrap up in April 2021, although the potential for appeals means the case could drag on for years.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto and Tessa Vikander in Vancouver; Editing by Denny Thomas and Peter Cooney)