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Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou ask court to order release of confidential documents

VANCOUVER — The defence team for the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei is asking the B.C. Supreme Court to order the release of more confidential information in an extradition case that's soured relations between Ottawa and Beijing.

Lawyers for the Attorney General of Canada are trying to block access to the information that relates to Meng Wanzhou's arrest at Vancouver's airport in 2018, claiming legal privilege to keep it confidential.

The court heard Monday the defence has received around 400 documents, many of them heavily redacted.

Meng's lawyers told the judge that they've narrowed in on 37 documents that they believe contain information relevant to their allegation that Meng's rights were violated when she was detained by border officials before being arrested by the RCMP.

In documents filed with the court, the defence team argued that Meng "reasonably believes that many documents are the subject of excessive redactions and overly broad claims of privilege. It is likely that there is redacted information that is relevant to her abuse of process allegations."

The United States wants Meng extradited to face fraud charges, alleging she misrepresented Huawei's relationship with a telecommunications company in Iran to HSBC, putting the bank at risk of violating American sanctions against that country.

Both Huawei and Meng deny the allegations.

Meng is living at her home in Vancouver on bail and attended Monday's hearing by phone.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes ruled in May that Meng's alleged offences would be a crime in Canada and the case should proceed to the next round of legal arguments that focus on the abuse of process claims from her defence team.

Among other claims, Meng's lawyers have argued that a heavily redacted memo from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is evidence that the spy agency was in on a plan to delay her arrest as border officials took her electronic devices and passwords before handing them over to the RCMP.

Previously, Crown lawyers told the court that when the Canadian Border Services Agency learned of its mistake, it told the RCMP that the information couldn't be used or shared because it was obtained during the agency's own examination.

At Monday's hearing, Meng lawyer Mona Duckett pointed to 11 emails subject to privilege claims and dated Dec. 1, 2018, which relate to Meng's arrest later that day.

Meng has "grave concerns respecting the delay of her arrest and the use of another authority to obtain information inappropriately," she told the court.

"So, if there is a flurry of discussion about what has happened that day being shielded by litigation privilege, it is information to which (Meng) is entitled access."

Meng's defence team also argued that the Attorney General was inconsistent in releasing some documents but not others, claiming the release of those documents implies a waiver of privilege for others that remain confidential.

The hearings focused on the technicalities of legal privilege are set to continue Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 17, 2020.

Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press

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