Canada’s ambassadors around the world are launching a concerted campaign to pressure allies to push for the release of two Canadians detained in China, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Saturday.
In a teleconference call with reporters, Freeland said Canadian ambassadors would reach out to their counterparts to discuss the “arbitrary detention” of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, which she said set a “worrying precedent.”
“I will continue in the coming days, along with Canada‘s ambassadors around the world, to be speaking with foreign counterparts about this issue,” Freeland said. “Our ambassadors… will be speaking directly in an organized effort with their counterparts.”
The United States, United Kingdom and European Union have expressed their support for Canada, but some countries are yet to comment publicly.
Kovrig and Spavor were detained in the wake of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou‘s arrest in Vancouver earlier this month. Meng was arrested at the behest of U.S. authorities, who want her extradited there to face charges of fraud.
Freeland reiterated that Meng, who has been granted bail in Vancouver, has been given “full access to due process” in her legal proceedings.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was personally involved in the situation, Freeland said, although she declined to say if or when Trudeau would pick up the phone and call Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“We continue to be in discussion with China,” Freeland said. “This is clearly a difficult moment in our relationship with China. It’s important to keep on talking and raising the issues directly with them.”
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Freeland’s remarks came a day after the Canadian government issued a written statement saying it was “deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities” of Kovrig and Spavor, and formally demanded their release.
— With files from Reuters