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B.C. Attorney General wants investigation of report MLA was detained in China in 2015

Last Updated Nov 29, 2019 at 10:50 pm PST

Richard T. Lee speaks at an event in Burnaby, B.C., on June 1, 2017. HANDOUT/Facebook

Global News reports that Richard Lee had his government-issued phone seized in 2015 while detained in China

David Eby wants an investigation, says the incident should have been reported to Ottawa when it happened

Former Deputy Premier Rich Coleman says he was aware of some of what happened to Lee, advised him to alert the feds

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A disturbing report about a former Liberal MLA being detained in China in 2015 has B.C.’s Attorney General asking Ottawa to investigate.

On Friday, Global News reported that Richard Lee says he spent eight hours being held at the Shanghai airport, had his government-issued phone seized and his visa revoked four years ago while he was serving as the MLA for Burnaby.

David Eby says the incident should have been reported to the federal government when it happened.

“What is alleged to have happened to former MLA Richard Lee at the Shanghai airport in November of 2015 is both concerning and disturbing, including the fact that Mr. Lee did not report this apparent detention for four years. The allegations have international implications for Canada and our relationship with China and that is why I will be writing to the federal attorney general, asking the federal government to look into this. I will also offer B.C.’s assistance to get to the bottom of whatever happened during Lee’s detention,” says Eby in a statement.

Former Deputy Premier Rich Coleman says he was aware of some of what happened to Lee, and advised him to alert Ottawa.

“It’s obviously a federal issue. It’s a bit befuddling four years later that he didn’t do anything with it at the time, which I thought he would have. My understanding back then when he had come back to Canada, he was going to talk to his MP or somebody federally, so I would have assumed that he did that.”

Coleman says Lee told him he was not allowed to travel to China, but was not given details of what happened at the airport.

“I never knew anybody had seized a phone from him. I did know he had been not allowed to go into China and that he was going to be speaking to the federal government and that’s all he passed on to me because he wasn’t asking for anything to be done.”

Global Affairs Canada has not confirmed if Lee contacted them four years ago.

“While Canada cannot control other countries’ exit and entry requirements, we hope and expect that Canadians are treated with respect during their travels,” says a spokesperson in an email.

NEWS 1130 has reached out to Richard Lee for comment.