The Canadian border agent who questioned Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou shortly before her 2018 arrest on a U.S. extradition request described the examination’s tactics -- including asking for and recording passwords to her devices -- as normal.
When Meng landed in Vancouver on a stopover on Dec. 1, 2018, border officials questioned her for three hours, seized her electronic devices, took down her passwords and searched her luggage before handing her over to police to be charged. Her defense argues that the officials abused their positions and that the U.S. request should be thrown out.
Scott Kirkland, an officer with the Canada Border Services Agency, was asked during a hearing at the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Wednesday how common it was to obtain passwords during so-called secondary questioning, when travelers are taken aside for further inspection.
Kirkland told the court that he asks for passwords “sometimes daily” and, in cases where there are potential national security or espionage concerns about the traveler, “pretty much every time.”
The long-running extradition case centers on U.S. allegations that the 48-year-old Chinese executive committed fraud. The U.S. claims Meng tricked HSBC Holdings Plc into processing Iran-linked transactions that put the bank at risk of violating American sanctions.
The case against Meng, eldest daughter of billionaire Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, has cast a spotlight on a broader Trump administration effort to contain China and Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment, which Washington sees as a national security threat.
Meng has accused Canadian border agents, police and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation of unlawfully using the pretext of an immigration check to get her to disclose evidence that may be used against her.
In addition to the passwords, border officials asked her about Huawei’s business in Iran without telling her why. At the time, Meng wasn’t aware of the fraud and sanctions allegations, which were in a sealed U.S. indictment.
Previous evidence presented in court showed that border agents shared her device passwords with Canadian police “in error.” Kirkland hadn’t addressed that evidence as the hearing continued.
The case is U.S. v. Huawei Technologies Co., 18-cr-457, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).