Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg has
been sentenced to death for drug smuggling in China in a ruling which will
worsen a diplomatic row between the two countries.
Last year, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was originally given a 15-year jail
term but after an appeal the court said the sentence was too lenient.
Today’s ruling comes weeks after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, a top
official at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, on a request from the US.
Canada condemned the latest ruling.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said: “It
is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our
international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily
apply the death penalty, as in this case facing a Canadian.”
China was angered by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, 46, the daughter of Huawei’s
founder, and the case has soured its relations with both Canada and the US. She
was granted bail in December.
Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the founder of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, has been arrested in Canada and faces extradition to the US.
The Huawei’s chief financial officer and deputy chair was arrested in Vancouver on December 1.
Details of the arrest have not been released but the US has been investigating the Chinese company over possible violation of sanctions against Iran.
China’s embassy in Canada protested at the arrest and demanded Meng Wanzhou’s release.
Huawei said it had little information about the charges and was “not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng”.
Meng Wanzhou’s arrest comes at a sensitive time for US-China relations. China and the US are engaged in a trade war that has seen both impose duties of billions of dollars on one another’s goods.
The arrest will not help the 90-day tariff truce the nations agreed after President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping met at the G20.
It also coincides with moves to restrict the use of Huawei technology in Western countries. The US, Australia and New Zealand have blocked the use of Huawei’s equipment in infrastructure for new faster 5G mobile networks.
Canada’s ministry of justice confirmed the date and place of Meng Wanzhou’s arrest and added: “She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday.”
It said it could not say more as Meng Wanzhou had sought a ban on the publication of details and this had been ordered by the courts.
A spokesman for the DoJ in the Eastern District of New York – which Huawei said had brought the charges – declined to comment.
Huawei is under investigation for potential violations of US sanctions against Iran.
One report in the New York Times said the US commerce and treasury departments had subpoenaed Huawei over suspected violation of sanctions against both Iran and North Korea.
US lawmakers have repeatedly accused Huawei of being a threat to US national security, arguing that its technology could be used for spying by the Chinese government.
Huawei said Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, was detained while transferring between flights.
In a statement, the company said it had complied with “all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.
“The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion.”
Huawei is one of the largest telecommunications equipment and services providers in the world, recently passing Apple to become the second-biggest smartphone maker after Samsung.
Some Western governments fear China will gain access to fifth-generation (5G) mobile and other communications networks through Huawei and expand its spying ability, although the company insists there is no government control.
The US has brought a number of legal cases against Chinese technology firms, with accusations such as cyber-security theft and violations of Iran sanctions.
Earlier this year, it barred US companies from exporting to ZTE, effectively shutting down the firm. The US later replaced the ban with a fine and governance changes.
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