Huawei CFO Files Lawsuit For Illegal Detention Against Canada

Meng Wanzhou is suing Canada for illegal detentionPhoto By: BY 4.0/Wikimedia

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei chief financial officer, is suing Canadian authorities for illegally detaining her in behalf of the US government.

Meng’s lawyers, also the daughter of Huawei’s founder, filed the civil lawsuit Friday in the British Columbia Supreme Court and made documents public to the press Sunday. She is seeking punitive damages and costs.

The alleged illegal arrest was made at Vancouver International Airport on December 1st.

Meng accuses the Canadian government of infringing her constitutional rights as she was questioned for three hours without being advised of her legal options. Moreover, her electronic equipment and luggage were searched before she was told she was under arrest.

Canadian authorities allegedly arrested her “under the guise of a routine customs” an to “compel her to provide evidence and information” at the Vancouver International Airport. The suit says she unlawfully subjected “to detention, search and interrogation to extract evidence from her before she was arrested.”

After Meng got off a flight from Hong Kong, officers from the Canada Border Services Agency stopped her and told her to surrender all her electronic devices, which included “two personal cellphones, an iPad, and a personal computer,” according to the lawsuit. 

Meng was also pressured and asked for her passwords for her devices as she was “intentionally failed to advise her of the true reasons for her detention, her right to counsel, and her right to silence.”

“The CBSA Officers knew or were recklessly indifferent to the fact that they had no authority to conduct such a search, which search was performed under the false pretense of a routine customs or immigration-related examination,” according to the lawsuit.

Only after searching and questioning her did the border officers turn her over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which formally arrested her.

As a direct result of the detention, Meng suffered damages including mental distress, anxiety, and loss of liberty, the lawsuit says. She has severe hypertension, for which she was hospitalized after her arrest.

“This case concerns a deliberate and pre-meditated effort on the part of the defendant officers to obtain evidence and information from the plaintiff in a manner which they knew constituted serious violations of the plaintiff’s rights,” the claim says.

The lawsuit is “alleging serious breaches of her constitutional rights and seeking damages for misfeasance in public office and false imprisonment,” Howard Mickleson, one of Meng’s lawyers, said in a statement.

The United States is charging Meng and China’s Huawei Technologies Co that portray the company as a threat to US national security. Meng was charged with bank and wire fraud to violate American sanctions against Iran.

Currently, Meng is released in Canada on bail of 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.5 million US).

On Friday, Canadian justice department officials gave the go-ahead for her extradition proceedings to begin. 

Meng was due in court on Wednesday to set a date for the proceedings to start. Until then, Meng will be considered in bail.

Meng will not be found guilty or innocent during her extradition hearing. If the judge decides she should be extradited, then the country’s minister of justice — its highest-ranking judicial official — will have the final decision.

If Meng is extradited to the United States, she will face trial there.

The trial is said to happen in New York if all goes well and her extradition is granted. It could be several months or even years before her case is resolved.

The legal battle between Huawei, China’s largest tech company, and the US is linked to President Donald Trump’s government on the on-going battle for technology.

How the cases figure into ongoing trade negotiations between the United States and China remains an open question.

President Donald Trump has suggested that he could consider the cases against Huawei as part of ongoing trade talks with China.

Huawei is a tech giant responsible for the mass production of telecommunications equipment and also one of the largest smartphone producers in the market alongside Samsung and Apple.

Meng is the daughter of Huawei chief executive Ren Zhengfei

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