Arrested Huawei executive Sabrina Meng’s passport in order, says Hong Kong Immigration Department
- Three passports in three years explained by name change, according to government source
- The department did not name Meng but, responding to media inquiries about a Hong Kong permanent resident, said she held only one valid passport
The Hong Kong Immigration Department revealed for the first time on Monday night that there were no irregularities in the three passports issued to the Huawei Technologies executive recently detained in Canada. It also said she held only one valid Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport, but it did not say why she needed three such documents in three years.
Meanwhile a government source told the Post that Sabrina Meng Wanzhou renewed the passports within a short time because she had changed her name.
The department was responding to the drama involving Meng, arrested in Vancouver at the behest of the United States, as Canadian court documents showed the permanent Hong Kong resident had at least seven passports – four from mainland China and three from the Hong Kong SAR.
But the documents did not state if the three Hong Kong passports, of different serial numbers, all beginning with the initials “KJ”, were valid at the same time.
The Immigration Department hinted in a statement issued on Monday night that Meng holds only one valid SAR passport at present.
Without naming Meng, the department said it was responding to media inquiries regarding a Hong Kong permanent resident who holds multiple SAR passports.
It said it had reviewed the relevant passports and found the vetting, issuing and cancellation of the documents were done in accordance with the relevant law.
“SAR passport holders would only hold one valid passport at a time,” it added.
Hours before the statement was issued, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said that while any Hong Kong passport applicant would be issued only one valid document, there were circumstances under which the holder would need to travel with an expired one in their possession.
Lee, who said he would not comment on individual cases, explained that passport holders would need to hand in their old passports for cancellation when they renewed, and expired passports would have the corners of the cover cut and be returned to the bearer.
Supplementing another statement the Immigration Department issued on Sunday on questions raised on Meng’s case, Lee said every new passport carried a new number.
“If a valid visa of another country is still on a cancelled passport, travellers sometimes have to present both the expired and the current valid passport to the immigration officers abroad. This is to prove that the holder is using a valid Hong Kong passport and that the old one still bears a valid visa,” he said.
The Post learned that Meng carried her expired ones when travelling, as they contained visas that were still valid, while “KJ” only indicated the document was jumbo-sized, meaning 48 pages instead of the standard 32.
Meng, described as a frequent traveller in the court document, was arrested when she was transiting at Vancouver airport on December 1. Prosecutors believed that she was on her way to Mexico with her second issued Hong Kong passport.
“She is travelling to Vancouver, Canada, on Saturday, December 1, 2018, on Cathay Pacific Flight 838, in transit to a third country, believed to be Mexico,” the document read. “Meng will be travelling on a Hong Kong passport bearing passport number KJ040XXX.”
When asked why the prosecutor expected Meng to travel on the second passport of the three, Lee said: “How the immigration officers abroad enter an immigration record – to note down which passport and how many passports were used, is up the immigration policies of that country.”
A government source told the Post that it was probably due to Meng’s second passport still bearing valid visas.
“The visa is bundled with the passport number at the time of application. Therefore, the official generated that passport number on court document regardless of whether the passport itself had expired. The visa is still valid,” the source said.
Lee said one can apply for a passport replacement if the document has expired, been damaged, defaced or lost. One can also apply for a new one if the pages have been fully used.
Official records from the US Customs and Border Protection under the Department of Homeland Security showed 33 departure and arrival records of Meng in the country between June 2014 and March 2017 on three Hong Kong passports.
The last time Meng used her first Hong Kong passport (KJ020XXX) to enter the country was on November 22, 2014, staying for three months until February 22, 2015.
Around four and a half months later, on July 15, 2015, she entered the country on her second Hong Kong passport (KJ040XXX). She used this passport to leave the country for the last time on June 20, 2016.
Then, on October 1, 2016, Meng arrived in the country on her third Hong Kong passport (KJ047XXX). The last time she used this latest passport to enter the US was on February 25 last year and she departed on March 2. She has not travelled to the United States since then, according to the Canadian court papers.
Members of the political party the Neo-Democrats demonstrated outside Immigration Tower in Hong Kong on Monday afternoon, urging the authorities to explain how Meng obtained three Hong Kong passports.
Roy Tam Hoi-bong, a Neo-Democrat district councillor in Tsuen WHuawei more wronged than doing wrongan, warned that the international status of Hong Kong passports might be affected if the issuance system was considered to have been abused through Meng’s case.
Additional reporting by Su Xinqi