BEIJING, China: A Chinese court, on Tuesday, upheld a Canadian man’s death sentence for drug smuggling a day before another court is due to rule on the case of another Canadian accused of spying.
The court proceedings in China took place while lawyers in Canada, representing Meng Wanzhou, the detained chief financial officer of telecoms giant Huawei, are fighting her extradition to the U.S., where she faces charges related to violating sanctions against Iran.
Robert Schellenberg was arrested in 2014 and jailed for 15 years in late 2018. After appealing, a court in Dalian sentenced him to death in January 2019, a month after Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on a U.S. warrant charging her with misleading HSBC Holdings PLC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.
Meng, who claims innocence, has been fighting extradition while under house arrest in Vancouver.
The High Court in Liaoning heard Schellenberg’s appeal against the death sentence in May last year and confirmed the verdict on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters by telephone after attending the hearing, Dominic Barton, Canada’s Ambassador to China, condemned the decision and called on China to grant clemency.
“It is not a coincidence that these are happening right now, while the case is going on in Vancouver,” Barton said, referring to the cases of Schellenberg and another Canadian, Michael Spavor.
China denied the cases of the Canadians are linked to Meng’s case in Canada. The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Businessman Spavor was detained in China days after Meng’s arrest in Vancouver and was charged with espionage in June last year.
Another Canadian, former diplomat Michael Kovrig, was also arrested in China days after Meng’s arrest and charged with espionage.
Some observers noted the likely convictions of Spavor and Kovrig could speed an agreement for their release and deportation back to Canada.
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