Published: Tue, January 01, 2019
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

China releases detained Canadian teacher

China releases detained Canadian teacher

The decision comes as Beijing and Ottawa remain embroiled in a diplomatic row triggered by Canada's early December arrest of a senior executive from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

At the appeal hearing, prosecutors said the sentence was too light and improper, arguing Schellenberg was very likely to have been part of a worldwide drugs smuggling operation and had played a major role in smuggling the drugs.

In one development that could lessen tensions, a Canadian government spokesman said on Friday that a Canadian citizen who was detained in China this month had returned to Canada after being released from custody.

Citing a statement released on the official website of Liaoning Higher People's Court on Wednesday, China's Global Times newspaper reported that "the court will accept and hear the case of appellant Schellenberg at 2:00pm local time Saturday". The court ordered the case to return to the trial court, but a retrial date has not been set yet. It added that Canadian diplomats were in court for the appeal.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was tried in 2016 but his case has been publicized by the Chinese press following the December 1 arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei, on USA charges related to trading with Iran.

And while he didn't identify the Canadian by name, reports indicate that it is Sarah McIver, a teacher from Alberta.

Neither China nor Canada has drawn a direct connection between the Meng case and the cases of the two other Canadians.

Meng was released on bail in Vancouver earlier this month and faces charges in the United States for violating Iranian sanctions.

China exercises a zero-tolerance policy towards drug trafficking, and has handed death sentences to foreigners found guilty of smuggling large quantities of illicit drugs.

Four other Japanese were executed in China in 2010 for drugs offences.

Last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said McIver had received an "administrative penalty (for) illegal employment".

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