Meng Wanzhou's lawyer accuses border supervisor who questioned her of lying on the stand
VANCOUVER -- The Canadian border supervisor who asked Meng Wanzhou whether Huawei did business in Iran, in what he said was part of an admissibility exam, came under tough questioning from her defence team Wednesday.
In the final minutes of cross-examination, defence lawyer Mona Duckett accused Supt. Sanjit Dhillon of the Canada Border Services Agency of lying on the stand.
Dhillon was one of two CBSA superintendents who testified in B.C. Supreme Court this week that they oversaw the immigration and customs exam of Meng at YVR airport on Dec. 1, 2018 by two border services officers.
That exam, which lasted nearly three hours, took place minutes after Meng landed from Hong Kong, but before RCMP arrested the Huawei CFO, made her aware of the U.S. fraud charges against her, and asked her if she wanted a lawyer.
Earlier in his cross-examination, Dhillon had testified that while RCMP had informed him of the charges against Meng, he formed additional concerns about the executive after spending roughly five to 10 minutes that morning on the Huawei Wikpedia page, chiefly reading a section about controversies.
It was that "open source" research, Dhillon testified, that led him to ask Meng during the CBSA exam if the company "sold products in countries that they should not" and specifically if Huawei "sold products or did business in Iran."
But Duckett, in a sharp series of questions to Dhillon, posed a different version of events, accusing Dhillon of making up his Wikipedia research as a cover story.
"I suggest you asked (Meng) about the U.S. and Iran because you were told at the morning meeting (with RCMP) about Iran," Duckett said.
"No, I was not," Dhillon responded.
"And I suggest you never looked at Wikipedia (that morning)," Duckett said.
"Yes, I did," Dhillon said.
"It's a creation after the fact," Duckett responded.
"No, it's not, " Dillon replied.
"Only when you were challenged (days later by a senior CBSA official) on the propriety of your questions (to Meng)," Duckett dangled.
"No," Dhillon rejected.
Duckett also pointed out that while Dhillon had asked Meng about Iran, he didn't ask her about other countries mentioned in the controversies section of the Wikipedia page, including North Korea, Venezuela and Syria.
And Dhillon, who was part of a CBSA team that has testified it was conducting an admissibility exam on Meng on “national security” and “serious criminality” grounds, told Duckett he also didn't ask Meng specifically about "doing espionage in Canada."
The version of events suggested by Duckett is part of the defence's argument that Canadian and U.S. authorities conspired to delay Meng's arrest at YVR in order to extract information and evidence that could bolster the American case against her.
The fraud charges stem from accusations that Meng misrepresented Huawei's relationship with another company called Skycom, in a 2013 presentation to HSBC bank.
U.S. authorities allege Skycom was fully controlled by Huawei, and Meng's alleged actions put the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Huawei and Meng have denied the charges, which they also allege are politically motivated.
And when it comes to how the Huawei CFO's questioning and arrest at YVR was handled, CBSA officers say they partially conducted what they called a "routine" immigration and customs exam before adjourning, and turning over Meng to the RCMP to be arrested.
Both the CBSA and RCMP have repeatedly said they did nothing wrong.
However, one border services officer testified the passcodes to Meng's mobile phones, which he wrote down on a lose sheet of paper, ended up being given to Mounties in error.
And the Mountie who arrested Meng admitted that he did not update a affidavit which said Meng had no ties to Canada, even after he learned she owned two homes in Vancouver.
Meng's lawyers allege her Charter rights were violated during the course of her questioning and arrest.
Her defence team plans to use what they learn from questioning nearly a dozen witnesses over the next few weeks to argue what's called an "Abuse of Process" of Canadian justice, and one so serious, it should bring an immediate end to her extradition case.