Huawei Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, leaves the British Columbia Supreme Court, in Vancouver on September 28. Meng and her lawyers have returned to court to press for her release, arguing the US misled Canada about her alleged crimes to secure her detention on foreign soil. Photo: AFP / Don MacKinnon

An attorney for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou said Wednesday that a Canadian police officer “deceived” his client during her arrest in 2018 so that she would not call a lawyer.

Meng, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom giant, was arrested on December 1, 2018, at the Vancouver airport by Canadian authorities acting on a US warrant.

For two years she has been fighting extradition to the United States, where she faces fraud charges related to the company’s activities in Iran in breach of US sanctions.

Her lawyers have tried to derail the extradition procedure by arguing that Meng’s rights were violated during her arrest, which Canada denies. This month’s hearings have heard from police and customs officers involved in her arrest.

The defense have said that the daughter of the Huawei founder was interrogated for three hours without her lawyer and without being told why, and had to give the passwords to her electronic devices to customs officials, who passed them on to Canadian federal police. 

Police then sent them to US Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, according to the defense, which denounced “collusion” between the two bodies.

On Wednesday, lawyer Scott Fenton accused a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) official of asking four customs officers not to reveal to Meng that she was the subject of an arrest warrant and thus misled her about her rights. 

Janice Vander Graaf, an RCMP sergeant and the most senior police officer called to the bar in the almost two-year-long judicial saga, dismissed the charges. 

“No, I have no recollection of that happening and I do not believe that happened,” she testified. 

“You were concerned that if the [customs officials] told her about the indictment or the provisional arrest warrant, she might seek counsel” and refuse to answer questions, Fenton continued.

The policewoman replied that she never gave any instructions to the customs officers, except to seize Meng’s electronic devices and put them in frequency-locking bags at the FBI’s request.

“We weren’t asking for any information,” she said, adding: “We don’t need passwords to get into phones.” 

The arrest of Meng, followed a few days later by the detention in China of two Canadians accused of espionage, provoked a serious diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Ottawa.