A Canadian border officer admitted at Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing Wednesday he lost possession of passcodes to her electronic devices, handing them to federal police.
Scott Kirkland, with the Canada Border Services Agency, said it is common for travelers to be asked to hand over passwords and access codes during an inspection, as Meng was on December 1, 2018 during a Canadian stopover from Hong Kong.
He said he usually writes the passcodes on a sticky note or piece of paper that is returned to them afterwards.
But after handing Meng over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), when he could not find the piece of paper with her passcodes, he realized he’d given them to the RCMP.
“I didn’t know,” he said, “if that piece of paper went with (the RCMP), or with the folder we created, or was still on the counter. I looked on the counter and the folder, but couldn’t find it.”
Handing the passcodes to the RCMP is a violation of Canada’s privacy laws. “That information is not allowed to be passed off,” Kirkland said.
Earlier, a defense lawyer for Meng accused a Canadian policeman of giving a “not honest” reply during the ongoing hearing on whether the Chinese national should be extradited to the US.
The accusation targeted Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Winston Yep’s testimony about why he delayed arresting Meng during a December 2018 stopover in Vancouver.
Meng is wanted by the United States on fraud charges related to violations of American sanctions in Iran
Yep testified this week that he did not immediately arrest Meng when her flight landed in Vancouver because of “safety reasons,” telling the court she might have had a knife, secret bodyguards or even “counter-surveillance” agents with her.
He also said border officials wanted to question her first about her immigration status.
But defense lawyer Richard Peck in a cross-examination on Wednesday said, “My view is that’s not an honest answer. Safety was never an issue; that’s my suggestion to you.”
Meng was interogated by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for nearly three hours, without legal representation, before being arrested by the RCMP.
The defense contends that Canadian authorities conspired with the US to delay Meng’s arrest and obtain information that could be used at trial, in violation of her rights – a contention that Canada rejects.
“Initially, RCMP thought [they] would stand by gate to arrest” Meng, Peck said, quoting from RCMP notes on her detention. “And had that happened, she would have been arrested at the gate … and given her charter rights.”
Scott Kirkland, the CBSA officer who interrogated Meng, also demanded her electronic device passcodes, and was next to take the stand.
Meng’s arrest plunged Canada-China relations into crisis, leading days later to the detention in China on espionage suspicions of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in what Ottawa says was retaliatory.
The extradition case is scheduled to wrap up in April 2021.