Meng Wanzhou: Trudeau rejects calls to release top Huawei executive
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under pressure to secure the release of the two Canadians imprisoned
Canada's prime minister rejects calls to end the extradition process against a Chinese Huawei executive.
Justin Trudeau said this would "endanger" Canadians abroad by opening them up to possible accidental detention.
Two Canadians were arrested shortly after Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, was arrested in Vancouver at the request of the United States.
Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman, have been detained in China since December 2018.
Her arrests took place only a few days after Ms. Meng's arrest, which critics regarded as an act of "hostage diplomacy".
Canada calls its arrests "arbitrary," and on Thursday Trudeau said there was a "direct link," but China has denied that it is retaliation for Ms. Meng's detention.
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Her arrest has affected Canada-China relations.
The American authorities accuse her of breaking Iranian sanctions and she is currently fighting extradition to the United States.
Last week, China accused Messrs Kovrig and Spavor of spying more than 18 months after their detention.
What did Trudeau say?
"We regret what China has done," said Trudeau on Thursday when he arrested the two men.
But he told journalists in Ottawa that if a foreign power believes it can put political pressure on Canada by arresting its citizens, "all Canadians who travel internationally become vulnerable."
Michael Spavor (L) and Michael Kovrig have been taking place since December 2018
Mr. Trudeau responded to pressure from a group of prominent former Canadian MPs and diplomats and some family members of the detained men to end Ms. Meng's extradition process.
In a letter to Mr. Trudeau, which was released by the Canadian public broadcaster CBC, the group said: "The two Michaels were taken as direct retribution for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Canada."
"We believe the two Michaels will remain in their Chinese prison cells until Meng can return to China."
While they said it "doesn't go well with anyone to give in to bullying or extortion ... resisting resistance to China's pressure is no guarantee that it will never be used again in the future."
Mr. Trudeau was also asked to take more punitive measures, including sanctions against Chinese officials.
What did China say?
China has described Ms. Meng's case as a "serious political incident" and has asked for her immediate release.
Beijing has not specifically linked her arrest to the two Canadians imprisoned, although her cases are often brought up jointly by spokesmen from the Chinese State Department.
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Spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that the Chinese authorities had seen reports that Mr. Kovrig's family had received a legal opinion that the Canadian Minister of Justice was authorized to terminate Ms. Meng's extradition process at any time.
"Such options are constitutional and could open up room for a solution to the situation of the two Canadians," he said.
What is the background?
Meng Wanzhou - the chief financial officer of Chinese technology giant Huawei and daughter of the company's founder - was arrested in Vancouver on December 1, 2018.
People protest before Meng Wanzhou's extradition hearing in Canada
Her arrest has been requested by the U.S. Department of Justice, which accused her of breaking Iranian sanctions. She is still fighting extradition to the United States.
The United States classified Huawei as a security risk and banned the sale of its products. US politicians are also pushing allies, including Canada, to keep Huawei from their markets.
Huawei has said it has confidence in the Canadian judicial system, "which will prove Ms. Meng's innocence."
Last month, a Canadian court ruled that her case could continue.
The two Canadians were arrested in China on December 10, 2018. They were officially arrested in May 2019.
Canada is putting both public and private pressures to get her released, Trudeau said, urging many of his allies to speak in support of Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig, including Australia, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the charges against the two men as "politically motivated and completely unfounded."
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