A letter this week to Trudeau, with signatories including a former Supreme Court judge, former foreign ministers and former envoys to Washington, argued that Justice Minister David Lametti has the legal authority to use his discretion to stop Meng’s extradition at any time if he decides is in the interest of Canada. They emphasized that ending the process could help free Kovrig and Spavor from what could be years of detention in China.
Trudeau rejected the request and said that while he respects the signers of the letter, he does not agree with them. He said pressing to end Meng’s process could put other Canadians traveling abroad at risk.
“We need to continue to be absolutely crystal clear that Canada has an independent judiciary and those processes will unfold regardless of any political pressure, including from foreign governments,” said Trudeau. “We will continue to be firm and strong and we will say it very clearly.” our actions and our words that arresting Canadians at random does not give you influence over the government of Canada anywhere in the world. “
Meng’s extradition case, based on fraud charges related to his alleged violation of US sanctions against Iran, has led Canada to half of a broader confrontation between the United States and China.
Added to the complexity are the public statements made by President Donald Trump days after Meng’s arrest. During a December 2018 interviewTrump said he would be willing to intervene in his case if that would help the United States win a trade deal with China or serve other American national security interests.
Beijing, which demanded Meng’s immediate release and called Canada an accomplice in his arrest on political charges, appeared to open the door on Wednesday to an exchange of prisoners.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, suggested that releasing Meng could help in the Kovrig or Spavor cases. During a press conference, he agreed to the public debate in Canada that says Lametti has the legal authority to stop Meng’s extradition process at any time.
“Such options are within the rule of law and could open space for resolution of the situation for the two Canadians,” said Zhao, according to a Chinese government transcript.
Trudeau, who repeated on Thursday that China has established a direct link between the Canadians’ arrests and the Meng case, said the extradition process has an element that involves input from the justice minister “at the appropriate time.”
“I deeply feel not only for the two Michaels who are in a very difficult situation, but for their families who have endured a year and a half of difficulties with this arbitrary detention by the Chinese authorities,” he said. “But it’s not just the two Michaels that are in question here. They are all Canadians who travel to China or anywhere else abroad. “
Earlier this week, Vina Nadjibulla, Kovrig’s wife, told POLITICO in an interview that her husband is an innocent man who is detained in China in extreme and harsh conditions.
“Michael is fighting for his life, this is extremely serious and he is not years old,” said Nadjibulla. “Michael is a pawn in a broader political struggle, he is paying a price. It is unfair, it is unfair and his detention has to end. “