The RCMP officer who arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver’s airport says he didn’t know how long questioning by Canada Border Services Agency officials would delay her arrest.
Const. Winston Yep testified in B.C. Supreme Court Tuesday in the extradition case of Meng, whose lawyers are trying to show her arrest two years ago was unlawful and she should not be extradited to the U.S. on allegations of fraud.
“We didn’t know how long it was going to take,” Yep said. “We were not going to interfere with their examination.”
Yep also admitted under cross-examination that he failed to correct an affidavit prepared for him to sign that included a line saying Meng had no known connection to Canada, after border officials told him she had two homes in Vancouver.
Yep is the first in a series of witnesses called to testify this week at the request of Meng’s defence team, which is gathering evidence for arguments it will make next year that she was subjected to an abuse of process.
The defence has alleged there was a “co-ordinated strategy” to have the RCMP delay her arrest so border officials could question Meng for three hours under the pretence of a routine immigration exam.
It’s one of several allegations of wrongdoing that Meng’s team is lodging against the RCMP and the CBSA, along with accusations they kept intentionally poor notes and failed to arrest her immediately according to the warrant’s requirements.
During questioning by Crown attorney John Gibb-Carsley on Monday, Yep told the court that the RCMP shares information with the CBSA as well as foreign agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States, subject to certain restrictions like personal information.
Yep testified that border officials told him before Meng was detained that she had two homes in Vancouver and they had concerns about her immigration status. He said they agreed CBSA would conduct its screening first after Meng landed in Canada, then Yep would make the arrest.
In cross-examination, defence lawyer Richard Peck questioned why Yep didn’t raise concerns about the affidavit he signed earlier when he learned of her Vancouver homes. Yep swore in the affidavit, which was required to execute the warrant, that he had knowledge of the case.
“If you knew she had ties to Canada … that would be the right thing for you to do, yes?”
“Yes, but I did not prepare the affidavit and it was my error in not recognizing that,” Yep responded.
He said he did not take any steps to verify the contents of the affidavit beyond reviewing a case summary provided to him at the same time.
Peck also asked Yep why he didn’t arrest Meng immediately after the plane landed or during a 13-minute window while she waited in a screening room before border officials questioned her.
“It could have been just as easy for you to arrest her as she stepped off that plane and handed her over to CBSA to do whatever they had to do and then take her away. That way she had her rights, charter rights,” Peck said.
Yep said that wasn’t discussed. He wanted to respect CBSA’s jurisdiction at the airport and believed he was still abiding by the arrest warrant’s stipulations for an “immediate” arrest, he said.
“My interpretation of ‘immediately’ is ‘as soon as practicable,’” he said.
The court heard the Department of Justice provided Yep with instructions on how to execute the arrest that included locating Meng, confirming her identity, arresting her and informing her of her rights.
Peck asked Yep if he alerted the Department of Justice that the CBSA would question Meng before he arrested her.
Yep said he did not.
Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
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