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China: Espionage cases of Canadians irrelevant to Huawei CFO prosecution

Huawei Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, leaves British Columbia Supreme Court, after hearing the decision of Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes in Vancouver, on May 27, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Beijing has dismissed Ottawa's attempts to link the espionage charges brought against two Canadian citizens to the ongoing extradition case in Canada of a Huawei senior executive.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a daily briefing on Monday that the cases of the two Canadians arrested by Chinese authorities were totally irrelevant to the case of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer, who is being prosecuted in Canada.

The two Canadian citizens, who were arrested in 2018 on espionage charges, were expats living in China.

Asked to comment on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's request that Beijing release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor from "arbitrary detention," Zhao responded that there were no cases of "arbitrary detention" in the Chinese legal apparatus.

Zhao, meanwhile, reiterated Beijing's demand for the release of Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.

The United States wants Meng extradited to face trial on charges related to the Chinese telecom equipment maker's alleged violations of US sanctions against Iran.

Diplomatic relations between Canada and China have hit rock bottom over the arrests, damaging trade between the two countries.

China's Embassy in Ottawa has accused the United States of trying "to bring down Huawei."

In December 2018, Canada detained Huawei CFO at the Vancouver International Airport on an extradition request from the United States. She was later granted bail and is now awaiting court proceedings.

Shortly after Meng's arrest, the two Canadians were detained. In March, China's Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission accused Kovrig of stealing state secrets passed on to him by Spavor. Some said it was retaliation.

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