On Friday, Canada and the US demanded the immediate freedom of two Canadian citizens in Chinese custody. UK and EU representatives are concerned about the detentions. Canadian Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, expressed Canada’s concern with the arbitrary detention of Canadian citizens and defended its investigation of Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer and founder’s daughter, Meng Wanzhou. Earlier this month on December 1, 46-year-old Meng was arrested at the request of US officials, heightening tensions between Canada and China.
Canada has a legal commitment to the US and was obligated to arrest Meng. On Friday, Freeland said, “We share with our partners the conviction that the rule of law is not a choice: It is the bedrock of democracy. Canada will not compromise nor politicize the rule of law and due process.”
The US alleged Meng violated US trade sanctions against Iran. Last week, China confirmed it detained Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig for activities endangering the national security of China. China did not share details about the reasons for arrest.
A statement from State Department spokesman, Robert Palladino, reads as follows: “We share Canada’s commitment to the rule of law as fundamental to all free societies, and we will defend and uphold this principle. We also express our deep concern for the Chinese Government’s detention of two Canadians earlier this month and call for their immediate release.”
Kovrig is isolated and does not have access to legal representation. On the other hand, Meng is given a choice of lawyers and is permitted familial contact. These are widely perceived as retaliatory arrests. Meng was also granted release on bail by a Canadian judge as she awaits extradition proceedings to the US in Vancouver. Meng’s husband and four friends paid $7.5 million USD in cash for her bail. Meng is being held accountable for the conditions of her bail which include giving up her Chinese and Hong Kong passports and surveillance of Meng in her Vancouver house. Those who paid for Meng’s bail agreed Meng must not evade her sentence and stay in Canada.
Meng is being extradited for misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting these banks at risk of violating US sanctions. Moreover, whether Huawei shipped US-origin products to Iran and other countries, against US export and sanctions laws, is being looked into. Huawei, the second-largest smartphone seller and number one global supplier of telecoms network equipment, denies Meng’s charges on the basis of wrongdoing.
Featured Image via Flickr/Global Panorama