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Border officer denies in court that RCMP asked for Huawei exec's phone codes

Last Updated Nov 20, 2020 at 4:44 pm MST

Chief Financial Officer of Huawei Meng Wanzhou arrives at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Wanzhou is heading to the British Columbia Supreme Court in a evidentiary hearing on her extradition case on abuse of process argument. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

VANCOUVER — The border officer who led Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s immigration exam before her arrest at Vancouver’s airport says he doesn’t believe RCMP asked him to collect the passcodes to her phones.

Sowmith Katragadda told an evidence-gathering hearing in Meng’s B.C. Supreme Court extradition case he couldn’t recall where the idea came from. 

Meng’s lawyers are collecting information they hope will bolster their allegation that Canadian officials gathered evidence improperly during her arrest in 2018 at the request of American officials under the guise of a routine immigration exam. 

Meng is wanted in the United States on fraud charges based on allegations related to U.S. sanctions against Iran that both she and Huawei deny. 

Katragadda has told the court that he asked another officer to collect the passcodes from Meng but didn’t know if the request to collect the codes was his idea or one of his supervisors.

One of Meng’s lawyers, Mona Duckett, suggested to Katragadda that RCMP officers, who were waiting in his supervisors’ office to arrest Meng, asked him to do so. 

Katragadda was in the same office when he asked his colleague by radio to collect the codes, court has heard. 

“It was in fact the RCMP in the superintendents’ office who asked you to get the passcodes, isn’t it?” Duckett asked Katragadda during cross-examination.

“I do not believe so,” Katragadda said. 

The passcodes were passed to RCMP along with Meng’s electronic devices by mistake, court has heard.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2020. 

The Canadian Press