FILE – Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland speaks with media in Washington, D.C. on Friday, May 11, 2018. (Alex Panetta/The Canadian Press)

Canada to embark on campaign to win release of citizens

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland that the arrests constitute a worrying precedent

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Saturday that Canada will embark on a campaign to win the release of two citizens detained by China in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a top Chinese tech executive.

Freeland said on a conference call with reporters that the arrests constitute a worrying precedent that has resonated with partners.

“We’re going to keep working with a broad group of allies to raise this issue,” she said, noting that Canadian ambassadors will be reaching out to governments across the world.

Freeland said she spoke with China’s ambassador to Ottawa on Friday and made Canada’s first demand for the immediate release of Canadian ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor. The U.S., the U.K. and the EU also issued statements in support of Canada.

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, was arrested while changing planes in Vancouver on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States, which wants her extradited to face charges that she and her company misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

READ MORE: Freeland demands China release detained Canadians

Nine days later, the Chinese detained Kovrig and Spavor on vague allegations of “engaging in activities that endanger the national security” of China.

Freeland’s declarations mark a harsher tone from officials. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been criticized by the Opposition for his largely muted response and for not phoning his Chinese counterpart.

Freeland said that that Canada is honouring its extradition treaty with the United States and emphasized that Canada is a country based on the rule of law that has freed Meng on bail. “She has been given absolute access to due process and the independent Canadian judicial system,” Freeland said. “That is how Canada operates.”

On Friday, the U.S. State Department reiterated a call for the Canadians’ release made by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement the U.K. is confident that Canada is respecting its extradition treaty with the U.S. and said he is “deeply concerned” that China may have detained the two Canadians for political reasons. The EU, meanwhile, issued a statement saying that the “declared motive” for their detention “raises concerns about legitimate research and business practices in China.”

Freeland thanked allies for speaking out.

The show of support from allies is significant for Canada, which has felt relatively isolated in recent months. In August, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its own ambassador after Canada’s foreign ministry tweeted support for an arrested Saudi activist.

The Saudis also sold Canadian investments and ordered their citizens studying in Canada to leave. No country, including the U.S., spoke out publicly in support of Canada.

Rob Gillies, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UBC Okanagan partners with industry to usher in next-generation of battery

It’s a collaboration between the university and B.C.-based tech companies

Airport Inn to appeal remedial action

‘The people that are living there today are compromised by the fact that they have to live there’

Coming home: Kelowna softball star returns after career-changing injury

Shayla Tyerman joins UBC Okanagan in their inaugural season in the WCSA

One pet unaccounted for after early morning Kelowna house fire

A Lakeshore Road home caught fire before 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning

On the Lawn lawn bowling tournament raises over $28,000 for Kelowna-based charity

On the Lawn has raised over $100,000 for Elevation Outdoors in the past five years

VIDEO: Facebook rolls out tool to block off-Facebook data gathering

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the “clear history” feature more than a year ago

B.C. rainbow crosswalk covered in mysterious black substance

Black substance spilled intentionally near Vancouver Island school and difficult to remove

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Partially cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms

Across the Okanagan, weather is not expected to break 30 C

RCMP originally planned to arrest Meng Wanzhou on plane, defence lawyers say

The allegations have not been proven in court. Meng was arrested Dec. 1 at Vancouver airport at the behest of the U.S.

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Ethics commissioner ready to testify on Trudeau, SNC-Lavalin: NDP critic

A new poll suggests the report hasn’t so far hurt the Liberals’ chances of re-election this fall

Inflation hits Bank of Canada 2% target for second straight month

Prices showed strength in other areas, including an 18.9 per cent increase in the cost of fresh vegetables

True Leaf closes in on licence for Okanagan cannabis hub

True Leaf Cannabis Inc. says it expects to receive its cultivation licence by fourth quarter of 2019

Penticton man sentenced in non-fatal 2017 shooting

Elkena Michael Knauff sentenced to seven and a half months in jail

Most Read