Canadian Warns U.S. no to Politicize Extradition Cases

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday cautioned the United States not to politicize extradition cases, a day afterPresident Donald Trump said he could intercede in the issue of a Chinese executive held in Canada at Washington’s request.

Canadian and U.S. flag.

Freeland also told the media that a second Canadian citizen could be in trouble in China. Authorities in China are now holding former civil servant Michael Kovrig, who was held on Monday.

Administrators say China had so far not connected Kovrig’s detention to the arrest in Vancouver on Dec. 1 of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, which maddened Beijing. Canadian ambassadorial specialists have said they have no doubt the two cases are connected.

U.S. prosecutors accuse Meng of deception to international banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks in danger of violatingU.S. sanctions. She has said she is not guilty.

Trump told a news agency he would intercede in the U.S. Justice Department’s case against Meng if it would serve national security interests or help close a trade deal with China.

Freeland said it was clear the legal procedure should not be commandeered for political purposes and that Meng’s attorneys would have the choice of raising Trump’s comments if they decided to fight extradition.

“Our extradition partners should not seek to politicize the extradition process or use it for ends other than the pursuit of justice and following the rule of law,” she said when asked about Trump’s remarks.

Her words mark another potentially difficult moment in bonds between Canada and the United States, which were heavily strained in more than a year of discussions to arrange another North American trade agreement.

Others also asked whether Trump may abuse the extradition demand.

“This is a legal issue and one that appears properly executed but your comments can only diminish an important extradition agreement,” said Bruce Heyman, an ex-U.S. ambassador to Canada who was appointed by President Barack Obama, Trump’s predecessor.

Meng was discharged on bail by a Canadian court and is next due to show up before a judge on February 6.

The United States has not yet made a formal extradition request. When it does, if a Canadian judge rules in favor of the demand, Canada’s justice minister must decide whether to deport Meng to the United States.

Canadian government officers earlier told a meeting that Meng had a lot of legal options to fight extradition and the procedure could take years.

The justice minister might deny the U.S. demand if they consider “it has been made for an improper purpose,” said one official.

The Meng issue has soured Canada’s bonds with China at a time when Ottawa is endeavoring to boost two-sided trade.

Freeland expressed deep concern over the Kovrig situation and said a second anonymous man had named Canadian authorities to say Chinese officers were asking him questions.

“We have not been able to make contact with him since he let us know about this,” she said.

“We are working very hard to as certain his where abouts and we have also raised this case with the Chinese authorities.”

The government officers said they had seen an uptick in anti-Canadian point of view online in China and have lead into worries about ambassadorial staff safety to the Chinese administration, which beefed up security in response.

“We have in general informed our personnel in Beijing and in our consulates to take extra precautions,” an official said.

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