Canada issued a stern warning to President Donald Trump on Wednesday: don’t use the arrest of a Chinese executive as a bargaining chip in trade talks.
“Our extradition partners should not seek to politicize the extradition process or use it for ends other than the pursuit of justice,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a press conference discussing the US request for extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.
Freeland’s remarks come after Trump said in an interview Tuesday that he might intervene in the legal saga if it would help the United States and China reach a trade deal.
“If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Trump told Reuters.
His comments, which were published shortly after Meng was granted bail by a judge in Vancouver, were highly unusual for an American President, and contradicted assertions by senior officials in his administration that the December 1 arrest, part of a long-running investigation, should not be tied to Trump’s dinner that same day with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
China’s state-run media has repeatedly claimed that Meng’s detention appears to be politically or economically motivated.
The United States claims that Meng helped Huawei, one of China’s most prominent tech companies, dodge sanctions on Iran. She was arrested during a layover at Vancouver International Airport.
Freeland said that in arresting Meng, Canada was just following the terms of its extradition treaty with the United States. She added that she’s talked with American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the case.
Freeland also on Wednesday confirmed the detention of Canadian Michael Kovrig in Beijing. Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, is an employee of the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit organization.
“Canada is deeply concerned by the detention of Mr. Kovrig and Canada has raised the case directly to Chinese officials,” Freeland said.
It’s not clear why Kovrig has been detained. In a press conference Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang refused to confirm or deny that he’d been apprehended.