Canada calls for the immediate release of two of its Chinese nationals
Steph Deschamps / August 26, 2020
Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne on Tuesday demanded from his Chinese counterpart the “immediate” release of his two compatriots imprisoned in China for over a year and a half, citing “an absolute priority” for Ottawa.
Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat stationed in Beijing, as well as businessman Michael Spavor, have been detained in China since December 2018 on charges of espionage.
Their detention is widely seen in the West as a reprisal for the arrest a few days earlier in Canada, at the request of the American justice system, of Meng Wanzhou, financial director of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
These cases opened an unprecedented diplomatic crisis between China and Canada.
During a meeting Tuesday in Rome with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Mr. Champagne called for the immediate release of MM. Kovrig and Spavor.
The case of these two nationals remains "an absolute priority for the Government of Canada," assured Mr. Champagne in comments reported by his department.
Mr. Champagne also called on Beijing to grant "clemency to all Canadians who risk the death penalty in China ».
Four Canadian nationals implicated in drug cases are imprisoned in the Asian country where they await the death penalty.
For his part, the head of Chinese diplomacy noted that the two countries encountered "serious difficulties due to the detention of a Chinese national" in Canada, according to a statement from his ministry.
Wang Yi, who did not explicitly mention Meng Wanzhou, called on Canada to "take the posture of an independent country" and "remove the main obstacles" which hamper relations between Beijing and Ottawa, according to the document. .
This meeting between MM. Wang et Champagne, the first since November 2019, intervened on the same day that Canadian justice rejected, in the name of national security, a request from Meng Wanzhou's lawyers.
His lawyer has requested access to secret documents which they say prove the existence of a conspiracy between the FBI and Canadian authorities. Such a plot, if proven, could result in the cancellation of Meng Wanzhou's extradition process to the United States, which accuses him of violating sanctions against Iran.
Credit : RTBF