Canada's Trudeau rejects call to swap Huawei executive for detainees in China
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denied a call Thursday to swap a detained Huawei Technologies Co Ltd executive [HWT.UL] for two Beijing-held citizens. Such a move would create a bad precedent and harm Canada.
Shortly after the Vancouver police arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, in December 2018 over a U.S. arrest warrant, Beijing arrested two Canadian men on security charges. Last week they were charged with suspected espionage.
A group of 19 prominent figures, including former ministers and diplomats, wrote a letter to Trudeau this week asking Ottawa to end extradition proceedings against Meng. This would increase the chances of China liberating the two men.
Trudeau, who has denied repeated calls from China to intervene in the Meng case, said the signatories wrongly requested her release.
"(This) would endanger the millions of Canadians who live and travel abroad each year. We cannot allow political pressure or arbitrary arrests of Canadian citizens to affect the functioning of our judicial system," he told reporters.
The wife of one of the detained men asked the Canadian Minister of Justice on Tuesday to consider intervening in the case and said her husband was in an increasingly difficult situation.
Although Beijing insists that there is no connection between the Meng and the two Canadians, Trudeau said that there is a clear connection.
"We regret what China has done ... and we will continue to be steadfast and strong," he said, adding that it would be "absolutely unacceptable" to let Beijing believe that arresting Canadians could do what it did it wanted.
China has also blocked imports of Canadian rapeseed and meat products.
Trudeau, who was asked if Ottawa could possibly impose sanctions on Chinese officials, said Canada is considering a number of options but has not released any details.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Richard Chang)
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