Huawei’s chief financial officer, who has been detained in Canada at the request of the US, has taken legal action against the country’s border agents and police, accusing them of an unlawful search and interrogation.
In a lawsuit filed in British Colombia’s Supreme Court on Friday, Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese telecommunications giant’s CFO and daughter of the company’s founder, claimed that the Canadian border agency and national police trampled on her constitutional rights when they detained her at Vancouver Airport on December 1.
The lawsuit, which was reported by the Globe and Mail on Sunday, alleges that border agents kept Meng in the dark about the real reasons for her detention for three hours, while at the same time combing through her electronic devices and duping her into providing evidence about the case “under the guise of a routine border check.”
The conduct of the agents, who read Meng her rights only after the procedure was over, constitute “serious breaches” of the Chinese national’s constitutional rights, the lawsuit charges.
Apart from questioning the legality of the Canadian authorities’ actions in the run-up to her eventual arrest, the lawsuit seeks damages for “misfeasance in public office” and “false imprisonment,” while accusing Ottawa of “multiple failures” to stick to its own law.
The lawsuit comes as the extradition process in her case formally kicks off, with Canada’s Department of Justice announcing on Friday that it had issued “an authority to proceed” with an extradition hearing, the date of which will be set next Wednesday.
Meng is facing an array of charges in the US, including bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit these crimes, all of which stem from her allegedly circumventing US sanctions on Iran. Beijing has denounced her arrest as “political persecution,” demanding that she be immediately released and that Washington drop the extradition request.
Meng’s detention drove China and the US, who were already at odds over the ongoing trade row, further apart. US President Donald Trump’s repeated remarks that he might use Meng as a bargaining chip in the stalled trade talks further inflamed the situation.
The high-profile case also put a strain on the relationship between China and Canada. In what appeared to be a response to Meng’s arrest, Beijing arrested two Canadian nationals and sentenced another one to death over drug smuggling charges.