Huawei CFO sues Canada for alleged wrongful detention

VANCOUVER • The Huawei Technologies Co Ltd CFO whose detention in Canada has sparked a diplomatic standoff has led a civil lawsuit against Canadian authorities, alleging she was wrongfully detained and searched.

Meng Wanzhou (picture) claims that her constitutional rights were breached and is seeking damages for an ordeal she said amounted to “false imprisonment”. The suit was filed on March 1 in the Supreme Court of British Columbia against the Canadian Border Services Agency, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer and the Canadian government.

The notice alleges that the police officer and several border guards detained, searched and interrogated Meng under the guise of a routine customs or immigration case, and used “that opportunity to unlawfully compel her to provide evidence and information”. It alleges they did so without immediately arresting her under the warrant to avoid affording Meng her constitutional rights.

Instead, according to the complaint, the officers detained the Huawei CFO on the jetway on Dec 1 as she was get ting off a flight, took away two phones, an iPad and a computer, then got her to surrender the passwords to those devices. She was formally arrested only about three hours after her initial detention, the claim says.

The claim was filed the same day Canada’s government agreed to proceed to an extradition hearing at the request of the US, which alleges Meng lied to banks to trick them into processing transactions for Huawei that potentially violated Iran trade sanctions. The complaint comes as China’s largest tech company is increasingly playing offence to counter accusations it aids Beijing in espionage — something it’s always denied.

China has accused Canada of abetting “a political persecution” against Huawei and has demanded the release of Meng, daughter of billionaire company founder Ren Zhengfei. History shows that if Canada follows the letter of its law, Meng will likely eventually be extradited.

Tomorrow, Meng is scheduled to appear in a Vancouver court, which will likely set the date for her first hearing in the extradition case. — Bloomberg