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Civil Litigation, Criminal

Civil suit connected to Meng's extradition strategy: Neuberger

A notice of civil claim filed by Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou alleging serious violations of her constitutional rights is “an oblique attack on the extradition process” she is facing, Toronto criminal lawyer Joseph Neuberger tells 900CHML Radio.

Neuberger, partner with Neuberger & Partners LLP, tells the Scott Thompson Show that the suit, filed with the B.C. Supreme Court against members of the Canadian Border Services Agency, the RCMP and the federal government, is less about an alleged violation of her Charter rights, than it is about influencing Meng's extradition to the United States.

“If they can get a finding through a civil court where there were, in fact, quite severe violations of her Charter rights (they are hoping) somehow that might influence an extradition court, or an appellate court, or even the justice minister when reviewing this,” Neuberger tells Thompson.

Meng's defence team accuses border officers of detaining and questioning her for three hours before notifying her of her arrest, The Canadian Press (CP) reports.

It seeks damages for false imprisonment based on multiple alleged failures of government officials to comply with the rule of law upon Meng's detention, search and interrogation at the Vancouver airport on Dec. 1.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

“If a person is detained and their right to counsel is withheld for three hours and their devices are seized and searched without any consent, these are constitutional violations,” Neuberger tells the radio broadcast.

“If the premise of this was to hold her on a ruse in order to get information from her because they are not advising at that time that ‘you’re under arrest for extradition,’ then these are real breaches, and they are serious.”

The civil matter is being conducted separately from Meng’s extradition hearing, which resumed in the B.C.'s top court on Wednesday.

Last week, the Canadian Department of Justice gave the go-ahead for an extradition case against Meng, marking the formal start of the high-profile process that has put Canada in an uncomfortable position between the United States and China, CP reports.

The U.S. Department of Justice has laid out 13 criminal counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction against Huawei and Meng, who is the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, the national news agency says.

Both Meng and the company have denied any wrongdoing, and the case has set off a diplomatic furor, with China's embassy calling it “political persecution'' against a Chinese high-tech enterprise, CP says.

“What’s going on in the civil action, and this is where there is a disconnect … this is simply for damages and a declaration," Neuberger tells 900CHML.

“What they really want to try to do is somehow impact the extradition proceedings. I think from a political standpoint this sort of furthers the Chinese propaganda about how this woman has been dealt with in Canada and how we talk about civil liberties and look at what we did to this person.

“This has political propaganda in it, and it’s playing out to the narrative of the Chinese government.”

- with files from The Canadian Press

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