US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted China for the detention of two Canadian nationals, in what is widely seen as retaliation against Ottawa for seizing a Huawei executive on Washingtons request two weeks ago.
The “unlawful detention” of Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig “is unacceptable” and “they ought to be returned,” Pompeo told reporters on Friday during a meeting with his Canadian counterpart, Chrystia Freeland.
We ask all nations of the world to treat other citizens properly and the detention of these two Canadian citizens in China ought to end.
Chinese officials detained the two Canadians in the space of just two days. Spavor runs a business sending tourists and athletes to North Korea. Kovrig, a former diplomat, serves as a senior adviser at the think tank, the International Crisis Group (ICC). Both men are investigated for activities harming Chinas “national security,” the officials in Beijing explained.
The detention of Canadian nationals is widely seen as a retaliatory step against Canada after its police detained Meng Wanzhou, Huaweis chief financial officer and the daughter of the companys founder, two weeks ago. She was apprehended at the request of Washington whose prosecutors accuse Meng of violating US sanctions placed on Iran.
Beijing strongly protested Mengs detention, and she herself denied any wrongdoing. The businesswoman was eventually released on bail and is now facing extradition to the US.
As Beijing mounted pressure on Canada, the nations Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland defended Mengs detention. She said the action against the Huawei executive was taken in accordance with the existing extradition treaty with the US, and “there was no political involvement” in the case.
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