United States brands China’s death sentence against Canadian ‘politically motivated’

United States brands China’s death sentence against Canadian ‘politically motivated’

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced in 2016 to a 15-year prison term but on Monday, after a new trial, he was sentenced to die.

"It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our global friends and allies, that China has chosen to arbitrarily apply [the] death penalty", he told reporters in Ottawa.

"I won't comment specifically, because I may have a role down the road, but I will say that we are a rule of law country, and it's one of our most important principles and as minister of justice and attorney general for Canada I will always act to protect the rule of law", he told CBC News.

Canada has warned citizens travelling to China about a risk of "arbitrary enforcement" of laws after the Schellenberg retrial, and the detention of up to 13 Canadians in the weeks following Meng's arrest last month.

Schellenberg's sentence has further strained relations between China and Canada, already aggravated by the December arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, on a USA extradition request as part of an investigation into suspected violations of US trade sanctions.

Days later, China detained two Canadians on suspicion of endangering state security - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and business consultant Michael Spavor.

China and Canada's diplomatic ties became strained, and concerns have been raised that Schellenberg's death sentence is being used as "payback".

China denounced Canada on Tuesday for "irresponsible" remarks after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused it of "arbitrarily" sentencing a Canadian to death for drug smuggling, aggravating already icy relations.

The lawyer for a Canadian man facing execution in China over drug smuggling has confirmed to the ABC his client will appeal his sentence.




The foreign ministry's consular-affairs office also published a notice Tuesday saying that Canada has recently "arbitrarily detained" a Chinese national - a reference to Canada's arrest of Chinese telecommunications executive Meng Wanzhou.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying expressed " strong dissatisfaction" with that. "You should ask the Australian officials if they were happy to see these drugs being imported into their country", she said at her Wednesday press briefing.

"It was a very emotional conversation", she says. The Chinese media began republicizing Schellenberg's case after Meng's detention.

It urged Chinese citizens to consider their personal circumstances and "fully assess the risks of going to Canada for tourism".

On Monday, a court in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian sentenced Schellenberg to death for drug smuggling.

"The sudden retrial and apparent rush to judgment has highlighted the numerous flaws in China's judicial system, " China researcher William Nee said in a statement.

Describing the case as "highly politicized, " the human rights group Amnesty International urged that Schellenberg's sentence be revoked.

"China should respect other nations' judicial procedure and rule of law, and it should not use foreign citizens as pawns".

Trudeau had also received support from other allies, including the United States, the European Union, France, Germany, Britain and Australia.

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