OTTAWA (REUTERS) – Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday (Dec 12) warned the United States not to politicise extradition cases, a day after President Donald Trump said he could intervene in the affair of a Chinese executive detained in Canada at Washington’s request.
Ms Freeland also told reporters that a second Canadian citizen could be in trouble in China.
The authorities in China are already holding former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who was detained on Monday.
China has strongly protested against the arrest in Vancouver on Dec 1 of Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
Ms Meng has been accused by US prosecutors of misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating US sanctions. She has said she is innocent.
Mr Trump told Reuters on Tuesday that he would intervene in the US Justice Department’s case against Ms Meng if it would serve national security interests or help close a trade deal with China.
But the legal process should not be hijacked for political purposes, Ms Freeland said.
“Our extradition partners should not seek to politicise the extradition process or use it for ends other than the pursuit of justice and following the rule of law,” Ms Freeland said when asked about Mr Trump’s comments.
Others also questioned whether Mr Trump might be misusing the extradition request.
“This is a legal issue and one that appears properly executed, but your comments can only diminish an important extradition agreement we have with our next door neighbour,” said Mr Bruce Heyman, a former US ambassador to Canada who was appointed by president Barack Obama, Mr Trump’s predecessor.
Ms Meng was released on bail by a Canadian court on Tuesday.
The US has not yet made a formal extradition petition. Once it does, if a Canadian judge rules in favour of the request, Canada’s justice minister must decide whether to extradite Ms Meng to the US.
Ms Freeland expressed deep concern over the Kovrig case and said a second unnamed Canadian had made contact with Canadian authorities to say Chinese officials were asking him questions. Canada has not been able to make contact with him since, she added.
Officials said earlier they have no indication from Beijing that Mr Kovrig’s detention was tied to Canada’s arrest of Ms Meng.
But they have seen an uptick in anti-Canadian sentiment online and in China, an official said, and have communicated concerns about diplomatic staff safety to the Chinese government, which beefed up security in response.
“We have in general informed our personnel in Beijing and in our consulates to take extra precautions,” an official said.
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