Crown lawyer says border officers miscommunicated about note-taking in Meng case

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Crown lawyer says border officers miscommunicated about note-taking in Meng case

VANCOUVER – A “misunderstanding” lies at the heart of a Canadian border official’s conviction that she was ordered not to take notes on the arrest of Huawei manager Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver Airport, a crown attorney said Friday.

VANCOUVER – A “misunderstanding” lies at the heart of a Canadian border official’s conviction that she was ordered not to take notes on the arrest of Huawei manager Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver airport, a crown attorney said Friday.

Marta Zemojtel called on a British Columbia Supreme Court judge to take the floor from Roslyn MacVicar, who “vehemently” declined to petition when she was the Pacific Director General for the Canada Border Services Agency.

“There was a misunderstanding or a miscommunication,” said Zemojtel on Friday.

Zemojtel spoke up at a hearing to determine if Huawei’s CFO Meng was subjected to abuse of process by RCMP and border guards during her arrest.

Meng was arrested at the request of the United States, where she is being wanted for fraud related to US sanctions against Iran that both she and the telecommunications company deny.

Among many allegations, Meng’s attorneys accuse Canadian officials of deliberately taking bad notes on the case to cover up an undercover criminal investigation and cover-up.

Her attorneys told the court that Canadian officials would be only too happy to jump in at the request of U.S. investigators and improperly gather evidence under the guise of a routine border check.

Nicole Goodman, who oversaw passenger operations for the border agency at Vancouver Airport, testified in December that MacVicar advised her not to keep additional records of the case in the weeks following Meng’s arrest. Goodman wanted to create a case summary and schedule, but MacVicar, now retired, told her the notes may be subject to information request access, Goodman said.

She told the court that the failure to write the case “incriminated” her.

However, MacVicar told the court that she “never” said that and it goes against everything she has ever said as a civil servant.

On Friday, Zemojtel asked the judge to dismiss the defense team’s claim that Goodman’s understanding of the conversation suggests an attempt was made to rewrite history.

A more informed conclusion is that the border agency carried out expected debriefing and update procedures following a high profile event at the airport.

She pointed to testimony from another official involved in the conversation who said he remembered MacVicar, who commented that no additional notes should be made, but did not believe her intention was to suppress or re-enter information formulate.

If it was an order, it would have been passed down the chain of command, which never happened, she said.

And despite the misunderstandings, there were no real consequences, said Zemojtel. Most of what was lost was a timeline of events created weeks after Meng’s arrest.

“There is no evidence that CBSA has attempted at any level to reformulate the evidence related to the applicant’s investigation or any hidden facts about their behavior,” she said.

Zemojtel also denied an argument by Meng’s defense team that said “sloppy” recordings by both RCMP and CBSA officers made them unreliable witnesses.

There may be disagreements, but the officers were all frank and frank when asked about absences, memory lapses, and information that was beyond their realm of knowledge, she said.

Another Crown attorney was questioning whether Meng’s rights were violated when RCMP officers collected serial numbers from their electronic devices days after they were arrested.

The court heard the Federal Bureau of Investigation asked for the numbers to file a legal inquiry about the devices.

John Gibb-Carsley said the RCMP did not need a search warrant to obtain the devices or collect their serial numbers. Meng’s charter rights were not violated as her equipment was confiscated as part of the arrest and the collection of numbers was an extension of it.

“The collection of electronic serial numbers was a logical and necessary continuation of the airport search,” said Gibb-Carsley on Friday.

Meng’s legal team has argued that the numbers were not properly obtained because they were collected through a new search that required judicial approval.

The British Columbia Supreme Court case is expected to close with an actual extradition or hearing in May.

Heather Holmes, Associate Chief Justice, hears for the first time four lines of argument about whether Meng has been exposed to abuse of law that would jeopardize the fairness of trials against her.

Meng’s team has argued that then-US President Donald Trump poisoned the case when he suggested intervening in the case to facilitate a trade deal with China.

The court will hear arguments next week claiming the case violates international law.

This Canadian press report was first published on March 26, 2021.

Amy Smart, the Canadian press