TORONTO (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that China doesn’t get that Canada has an independent judicial system and reiterated his charge that Beijing imprisoned two Canadians in retaliation for the arrest of a top Huawei executive.
Trudeau said Canada will continue to press Beijing to release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, both detained since December 2018 following Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese Huawei offical and the daughter of the company’s founder.
Canadian police detained Meng in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition request nine days before Kovrig and Spavor were arrested.
“We have seen Chinese officials linking those two cases from the very beginning. Canada has an independent judicial system that functions without interference or override by politicians,” Trudeau said.
“China doesn’t work quite the same the way, and (they) don’t seem to understand that we do have an independent judiciary from political intervention,” he said.
The U.S. is seeking Meng’s extradition on fraud charges and her extradition case is before the Canadian courts. Her arrest severely damaged relations between China and Canada. China has also sentenced two other Canadians to death and suspended canola imports.
Trudeau has come under increasing pressure to speak out against the Chinese regime by the opposition and others.
“We will continue to follow and uphold the independence of our judicial system while we advocate for the release of the two Michaels who have been arbitrarily detained by China in retaliation for a judicial system that is independent in the way it functions,” Trudeau said.
Neither Kovrig nor Spavor are being permitted visits from consular officials amid the coronavirus pandemic, while Meng has been released on bail and is living in a luxurious Vancouver home pending a ruling in her extradition case.
The British Columbia Supreme Court will release a key decision next Wednesday in her case on the issue of so-called double criminality. The legal arguments on double criminality center on whether what Meng is accused of in the United States would be a crime in Canada.
American prosecutors allege she made misrepresentations to foreign banks, including London-based HSBC, about Huawei’s relationship with its Iran-based affiliate Skycom. The U.S. says she violated American sanctions on Iran.
The decision could potentially lead to her release or it could start a new round of legal arguments, including whether her arrest at Vancouver’s airport in December 2018 was unlawful.