TORONTO — An executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei is suing the Canadian government, its border agency and the national police force, saying they detained, searched and interrogated her before telling her she was under arrest.
Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou said Sunday they filed a notice of civil claim in the British Columbia Supreme Court. Canada arrested Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, at the request of the U.S. on Dec. 1 at Vancouver’s airport. She is wanted on fraud charges that she misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
The suit alleges that instead of immediately arresting her, authorities interrogated Meng “under the guise of a routine customs” examination and used the opportunity to “compel her to provide evidence and information.” The suit alleges Canada Border Service Agency agents seized her electronic devices, obtained passwords and unlawfully viewed the contents and intentionally failed to adviser her of the true reasons for her detention. The suit said only after three hours was she told she was under arrest and had right to counsel.
“This case concerns a deliberate and pre-meditated effort on the part of the defendant officers to obtain evidence and information from the plaintiff in a manner which they knew constituted serious violations of the plaintiff’s rights,” the claim says.
Meng is out on bail and living in Vancouver awaiting extradition proceedings.
On Friday, Canadian Justice Department officials gave the go-ahead for her extradition proceedings to begin. Meng is due in court Wednesday to set a date for the proceedings to start. It could be several months or even years before her case is resolved.
Meng’s arrest set off a diplomatic furor and severely strained Canadian relations with China. Beijing has accused Washington of a politically motivated attempt to hurt the company.
China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng.
A Chinese court also sentenced a Canadian to death in a sudden retrial, overturning a 15-year prison term handed down earlier. Kovrig and Spavor haven’t had access to a lawyer or to their families since being arrested.
Messages left for the Canadian government, the Canada Border Services Agency and Royal Canadian Mounted Police were not immediately returned.