A British Columbia Supreme Court judge refused to ease Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou's bail conditions, saying the current restrictions are the minimum required to ensure she does not flee Canada.
Justice William Ehrcke dismissed Meng's application for changes to her bail conditions, which would have allowed her to leave her Vancouver home outside the hours of her overnight curfew without the presence of security.
Meng's husband testified earlier this month that she has underlying health conditions and he believes she's at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 because of her proximity to members of her private security detail whenever she leaves home.
However, Ehrcke says that Meng does not need to leave home except for court appearances, she doesn't live a great distance from the Vancouver courthouse and her security detail always wear masks.
He also says he did not see any evidence about her current health or why she is more at risk of COVID-19 than any other 48-year-old, adding her surgery related to thyroid cancer was 10 years ago.
Meng, a Chinese citizen, is wanted in the United States on fraud charges based on allegations both she and the company deny. Her lawyers argue she has been subjected to abuse of process and should be freed.
She was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018, at Vancouver's airport and the judge released her on $10-million bail days later.
Her bail conditions included that she remain inside one of her two Vancouver homes overnight, remain in a defined geographical area during the day and agree to GPS monitoring with an ankle bracelet at all times. She also agreed to surveillance and supervision by a security company 24 hours a day, for seven days a week.
In Ehrcke's oral ruling delivered Friday, he said Meng's husband, Liu Xiaozong, testified that the security detail has made it very difficult for his family to spend time outside together. Liu told the court that they used to go to the grocery store, shopping malls and playgrounds with their children, although he also acknowledged the pandemic has made those outings challenging, the judge said.
Liu also testified that their children are afraid of being identified by the public because of the close proximity of the security detail, Ehrcke said.
But the judge said the CEO of the security company tasked with supervising Meng did not support any change to her bail conditions, though he acknowledged under cross-examination that it could result in a significant loss of revenue to the company.
Douglas Maynard, CEO of Lions Gate Risk Management Group, testified that although Meng has generally been complying with her bail conditions, she still faces potential risks to her safety and the possibility that someone may try to "extract" her from Canada, the judge said.
The judge said he remains of the view that the conditions are the minimum necessary to ensure Meng does not flee Canada. She has significant financial resources at her disposal and is facing charges that could ultimately result in her incarceration in the United States if she's convicted, he noted.
"The current bail conditions were carefully crafted in an attempt to mitigate the risk of flight by Ms. Meng," Ehrcke said. "An integral component was the supervision and surveillance of Ms. Meng by Lions Gate personnel when she is away from her residence."