OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says bowing to pressure from Beijing to secure the release of two Canadians would put “an awful lot more” citizens at risk by signalling Canada can be intimidated.
Trudeau isn’t budging from his stance that it would send the wrong message to drop extradition proceedings against telecommunications executive Meng Wanzhou in the hope of winning freedom for entrepreneur Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig.
Canadian authorities took Meng into custody over American allegations of violating sanctions on Iran, and her extradition case is now before a British Columbia court.
Soon after Meng was arrested, Beijing detained Spavor and Kovrig on allegations of undermining China’s national security — developments widely seen in Canada as retaliation for the detention of Meng.
A letter to Trudeau signed by 19 former politicians and diplomats urges that Meng be freed in a bid to win the release of the detained Canadians.
Signatories to the letter, obtained by The Canadian Press, include Jean Chretien-era ministers Lloyd Axworthy and Andre Ouellet, former Conservative minister Lawrence Cannon and former diplomat Robert Fowler, who was himself taken hostage in 2008 in Niger.