Border officer says information sharing was discussed with RCMP before Huawei exec's arrest
Published Thursday, October 29, 2020 12:42PM PDT Last Updated Thursday, October 29, 2020 7:30PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- A border officer who assisted in the examination of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver's airport before her arrest two years ago says information sharing was discussed with the RCMP before she landed.
Scott Kirkland told the B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday that someone raised the question of how information collected by border officials could be legally obtained by police during a meeting between Canada Border Services Agency and RCMP officers before Meng's plane arrived.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Mona Duckett, Kirkland agreed that Section 107 of the Customs Act was brought up in the meeting in the context of how the the RCMP could legally obtain information from a customs and immigration exam.
He agreed that it was raised in anticipation that border officials could discover information worth sharing.
Kirkland testified that he couldn't recall whether it was an RCMP or border officer who raised the Customs Act on the issue of information sharing.
"It was brought up in the context of how the RCMP could legally obtain information from your examination?" Duckett asked.
"Yes," Kirkland said.
"So, in advance of the examination, there was a discussion of the sharing of information obtained, right?"
"Yes," he said.
"In anticipation of getting information worth sharing?" Duckett asked.
"If that arose, yes."
Kirkland is the second in a series of witnesses called to testify at the request of Meng's defence team, which is gathering evidence for arguments it will make next year that she was subjected to an abuse of process.
The defence has alleged there was a "co-ordinated strategy" to have the RCMP delay her arrest so border officials could question Meng under the pretense of a routine immigration exam.
Also on Thursday, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes released a decision allowing the defence to pursue an argument next year as part of its abuse of process allegations.
The defence has sought to argue that the United States misled Canadian officials in its summary of the case against her.
"I have concluded that there is an air of reality to Ms. Meng's allegations of abuse of process in relation to the requesting state's conduct in certifying the (record of case)," the decision says.
Meng is wanted in the United States on fraud charges over allegations she lied to HSBC about Huawei's relationship with a company doing business in Iran, putting the bank at risk of violating American sanctions against that country. Meng and Huawei deny the allegations.
On Wednesday Kirkland testified that border officers made "abundantly clear" to the RCMP that the Mounties could not interfere in their examination process.
He said the border agency was obligated to conduct its own screening of Meng after she landed because officers had suspicions relating to criminality and national security that could affect Meng's admissibility to Canada. That examination is independent of the RCMP's process, he said.
However, he acknowledged on Thursday that his colleagues seemed to "lack the same urgency" about national security, which he said he developed based on internet sources and his own knowledge of telecommunications. He did not lead the examination.
Meng was flagged on an internal database because of an outstanding warrant but Kirkland could not recall anything in the database that indicated a national security concern.
During Meng's examination, he said she was never informed of the existence of a warrant for her arrest, nor asked about national security concerns like espionage.
"Do you agree that throughout the examination there was not an iota of evidence gathered to support a national security concern," Duckett asked?
"That is correct."
On Wednesday, Kirkland said he suggested that after identifying Meng at the gate, the border agency should pass her to the RCMP immediately. He was concerned that an exam by border officers before her arrest could be seen as a delay in due process and raised as a charter issue in court, he said.
On Thursday, he said he never voiced the reason for his concern.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2020.