VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Canada’s prime minister says the detention of two Canadians in China is completely politically motivated.
“We’re going to continue to explain to China that Canada is a country of the rule of law, that we will follow the proper processes and it is unacceptable that they have arbitrarily detained two Canadians for entirely political reasons when we are behaving in a responsible, legal way,” Justin Trudeau said in an exclusive interview with Radio NL in Kamloops on Wednesday.
This is believed to be the first time Trudeau has suggested the detentions are completely politically-motivated.
He says other countries are lining up to support Ottawa’s demands for the immediate release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
“One of the things that has been encouraging in my conversations over the past week with varied world leaders, from President Tusk of the European Union to President Trump to Prime Minister Shinzō Abe of Japan, is that there has been widespread support for Canada and criticism for China for acting in an arbitrary way,” he added.
His comments came just before Canadian officials landed another interview with Kovrig, the ex diplomat who was first detained in early December.
Both he and Spavor, with whom officials met with for a second time earlier this week, are accused of endangering national security.
Their arrests are widely seen as nothing more than retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver last month, at the request of the U.S. government.
Meng’s arrest and her potential extradition to the U.S. on fraud charges has enraged China, which has demanded her release and has warned of serious consequences for Canada.
“We continue to engage directly with Chinese authorities to ensure consular access, and to impress upon them that Canada is a country of the rule of law and we will follow the rules when it comes to our extradition treaties and processes with other countries,” Trudeau said.
-With files from the Canadian Press