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Canada refuses to release emails with U.S. over Huawei exec's arrest

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada has released as much information as it legally can about the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, the government’s lawyers said on Monday, as she sought more confidential documents relating to her 2018 detention.

FILE PHOTO: Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier/File Photo

Meng, 48, was arrested in December 2018 at Vancouver International Airport on a U.S. warrant charging her with bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.

She has said she is innocent, and is fighting extradition to the United States while under house arrest in Vancouver.

On the first day of hearings expected to last up to three days, Meng’s lawyer said a “flurry of emails” between Canadian and American officials around the time of Meng’s arrest should not all be covered by privilege, as Canadian prosecutors have argued.

Meng’s lawyers have pushed for the release of more documents to support their assertion that Canadian and American authorities committed abuses of process while questioning Meng before her arrest, including the improper sharing of identifying details about her electronic devices.

Crown lawyer John Gibb-Carsley said his team is committed to making the trial “as open as possible without divulging the privileges which need to be protected.”

However, Meng’s lawyers argued that abuse of process is an exception to litigation privilege.

“We see a flurry of emails around the subject matter,” Scott Fenton, a lawyer for Meng, said. “We would be easily guilty of being wrong that all these emails are about that subject matter because we can’t see them, so it’s a matter for the closed hearing to determine what these are about.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have denied any abuses relating to their conduct during Meng’s arrest.

Several of the privilege claims were litigated in a federal court in Ottawa in late July, because they were made on the basis of national security.

The hearings will continue in a closed session on Tuesday, potentially stretching into Wednesday. Meng will not be present.

A schedule proposed jointly by lawyers for the prosecution and defense said that a decision on the issue by Oct. 2 would allow the rest of the trial to proceed as planned, with hearings wrapping up in April 2021.

Reporting by Tessa Vikander in Vancouver and Moira Warburton in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Stephen Coates

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