Border officer can't recall where idea to collect Meng's phone passcodes came from

Canadian border officer can't recall whose idea it was to require Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to provide him with her phone pass codes, which were later shared with RCMP.

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — The border officer who led the examination of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver's airport before her arrest two years ago says he can't recall whose idea it was to collect the passcodes to her phones.

Sowmith Katragadda told a B.C. Supreme Court hearing he asked another officer to collect the codes from Meng but can't remember if the order came from one of his supervisors or if it was his own idea.

Katragadda is testifying as part of an evidence-gathering hearing in Meng's extradition case.

Her lawyers are collecting information to support an abuse of process argument in court next year alleging Canadian officers gathered evidence to aid American officials under the guise of a routine border exam.

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

Katragadda testified on Wednesday that he wanted to end the customs and immigration exam as quickly as possible so as not to unduly delay Meng's arrest by the RCMP.

He says when he told his superiors that he was ready to adjourn the exam, they asked him to wait while they consulted the Canada Border Services Agency's national security unit.

After putting some questions to Meng relayed from the national security unit, Katragadda says he asked another officer to collect the passcodes.

"I believed it was reasonable," he said.

"The examination was ongoing and her electronics devices are subject to examination. Whether or not I examined the devices on that day or a later day, the passwords were important to conduct the examination."

Katragadda says he did not learn the passcodes had been shared with the RCMP until a debriefing meeting.

The officer who wrote down the passcodes has testified that it was "heart wrenching" when he realized the codes had accidently been passed to the RCMP along with Meng's electronics.

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