Trudeau declines to comment on possible release of Huawei CFO

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his priority is the safe return of two Canadians detained in China.

Trudeau Corona
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused China of engaging in 'coercive diplomacy' as relations between the two countries have deteriorated over the past two years [File: Dave Chan/AFP]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that he would not comment on reports that the United States is negotiating a “deal” to allow Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou to return to China in exchange for admitting some wrongdoing.

Canadian authorities detained Meng in 2018 after the US requested her extradition on allegations the Chinese telecom company executive committed wire and bank fraud and violated US sanctions on Iran, which she denies.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Meng’s lawyers had spoken to US Justice Department officials about the possibility of reaching a “deferred prosecution agreement”.

Reuters news agency also said those discussions had picked up following last month’s US presidential election.

“I’m not going to comment on those reports,” Trudeau told reporters during a news conference in Ottawa on Friday.

“Canadians know well that our top priority is the safe return of the two Michaels,” he said, referring to businessman Michael Spavnor and former diplomat Michael Kovring, Canadian citizens who were detained in China shortly after Meng’s arrest.

The Chinese authorities accused Spavnor and Koening of spying, an allegation they deny.

The case has strained relations between China and Canada, with government officials in Ottawa and Beijing engaging in a war of words over the past two years.

In June, Trudeau slammed China for what he said was the “political” detention of Spavnor and Koening – and he has repeatedly said his government will not shy away from criticising China on its human rights record.

“This using of arbitrary detentions as a means to advance political gains is something that is fully unacceptable in a world based on rules,” Trudeau said at the time.

China, meanwhile, has warned Canada against meddling in its internal affairs.

Meng’s extradition case is being heard in British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver, on Canada’s west coast, where she is under house arrest.

She is due back in court on Monday.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies