Second Canadian facing trouble in China following Huawei CFO arrest

Following the detainment in Beijing of a Canadian diplomat on leave, Canada has confirmed that it is working to 'ascertain the whereabouts' of a second citizen in China who reached out to them after 'being asked questions by Chinese authorities' and has not been heard from since.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has confirmed that a second national could be facing trouble in China following the arrest last week of Huawei's global CFO.

"We are aware of a Canadian who got in touch with us because he was being asked questions by Chinese authorities. We have not been able to make contact with him since he let us know about this," Freeland told media on Wednesday afternoon.

"We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts, and we have also raised this case with the Chinese authorities. We are in touch with his family.

"I don't want to say anything more at this time, because it is a personal situation, it may be a delicate situation, and I want to respect the privacy of that individual and that individual's family."

Freeland also spoke about the detainment of Canadian diplomat on leave Michael Kovrig in Beijing, saying the government is "deeply concerned" and has raised the case directly with Chinese officials.

"I can confirm the reports of his detention," she said.

"We have been in direct and immediate contact with Chinese authorities, we have been in touch with Mr Kovrig's family, I personally spoke today with a family member of Mr Kovrig, I think it's very important for his family to understand how closely Canada is following this case and how important it is.

"Whenever a Canadian is detained abroad, Canada has a very important duty of care to that Canadian and to the Canadian's families."

Freeland said any Canadians travelling to China should exercise a high degree of caution, but said that Chinese authorities "have not described the situation with Mr Kovrig as being a reprisal", and that Canada's relationship with China remains important.

"The fact that Mr Kovrig is an employee of the department is relevant, and he is well known by many people in the department, we're very concerned about him," she added.

"However, for Canada it is important to try to maintain relations with China. And it's important for us to continue to speak with China and to work with China, and that is how it will be possible to resolve difficulties in the end.

"Canada will do everything in its power."

Read also: Trudeau denies involvement in Huawei arrest

On the arrest of Huawei's global CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the founder of Huawei and was yesterday granted bail, Freeland argued that Canada has provided information to Chinese authorities throughout the entire process.

"It was important for us to promptly inform Chinese authorities of her detention, which we did, and to promptly grant China consular access to Ms Meng, which we did, and also for her to have full access to due process, and to the impartiality and fairness of the Canadian legal system, which she has had and which she will continue to have," Freeland said.

"Ms Meng has been released on bail, and we will continue to ensure that the Chinese government is kept up to date on the next steps in the judicial process.

"What we're responsible for is not the behaviour of other countries. What we're responsible for is how Canada behaves. Canada is a rule of law country, and that is extremely important to our government."

Freeland also defended Canada's extradition treaty with the United States, but noted that the extradition process should only be used to attain justice.

"I think most Canadians would feel it's right for us to have an extradition treaty with our closest trading partner, with our neighbour, with whom we share the world's largest non-militarised border, with a country which is our ally in NATO and NORAD, and critically with a country which like Canada also has a highly respected system of the rule of law, a very strong and independent judiciary as Canada does," she said.

"I will say that it I think is quite obvious that it ought to be incumbent on parties seeking an extradition from Canada recognising that Canada is a rule of law country to ensure that any extradition request is about ensuring that justice is done, is about ensuring that the rule of law is respected, and is not politicised or used for any other purpose."

The US has 60 days from the date of her arrest to make a full extradition request, with Department of Justice officials having another 30 days to determine whether to issue an Authority to Proceed to commence the extradition process. An extradition hearing would then be held in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Earlier on Wednesday, Canadian Justice Minister and Attorney-General Jody Wilson-Raybould released a statement on the process.

"As the Minister of Justice, I take my extradition responsibilities and obligations very seriously," Wilson-Raybould said.

"Canada's extradition process protects the rights of the person sought by ensuring that extradition will not be granted if, among other things, it is contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the principles of fundamental justice. Ms Meng is currently being afforded due process by the courts, as would any person arrested on Canadian soil. Canada benefits from an independent and impartial judiciary. This ensures that a fair and unbiased process will unfold.

"If the superior courts and any appeal courts ultimately approve a 'committal' for extradition, then as the Minister of Justice, I will ultimately have to decide on the issue of surrender of the person sought for extradition. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the facts of this case at this time."

When arresting Meng, the US alleged that Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran, in breach of US trade sanctions, and misled banks about its business dealings in Iran.

News of the arrest brought stock markets down amid fears of increased tension between the US and China, whose presidents recently announced that they had reached an agreement to halt additional tariffs from being imposed in their ongoing trade war.

In a statement, Huawei said it has no knowledge of any wrongdoing by Meng, while US President Donald Trump has said he would intervene in the case if it serves national security interests or would help close a trade deal with China.

Previous Coverage

Huawei CFO granted bail in Canada as China detains Canadian

A Canadian court has granted bail to Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou after her arrest in Vancouver on behalf of US authorities.

Huawei CFO cannot be trusted: Prosecutors

Huawei global CFO Meng Wanzhou is still fighting for bail during the wait for her extradition hearing, with prosecutors alleging she cannot be trusted while she cites health concerns.

Trudeau denies involvement in Huawei arrest

The Canadian government was given a few days' notice of the imminent arrest of Huawei's CFO on behalf of US authorities, with Wanzhou Meng facing a bail hearing on Friday.

Huawei CFO arrested in Canada for breaking US-Iran trade sanctions

Huawei's chief financial officer has been arrested in Vancouver and is facing extradition to the US over allegations of violating trade sanctions with Iran.

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