China court orders retrial for Canadian jailed for drug smuggling

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying addresses a press conference in Beijing Dec. 28 2018

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying addresses a press conference in Beijing Dec. 28 2018

"Global Affairs can confirm that a Canadian citizen, who was detained in China this month, has been released and has now returned to Canada", spokesman Richard Walker said Friday. Part of a series.

Sarah McIver, an Alberta woman who was detained in China while teaching English, has been released from custody and is back in Canada.

Since then, China has arrested Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on charges of endangering national security in apparent retaliation.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry had confirmed last week that a local public security authority imposed an "administrative penalty" on McIver for "illegal employment".

A Chinese court said Saturday that a 15-year jail sentence for a Canadian national charged with drug smuggling was too "lenient" and remanded his case for a retrial.

McIver's detention was confirmed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on December 19, who said at the time that the detention was more "routine" than the previous two cases.

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Schellenberg played an "important role" in drug smuggling and was potentially involved in global organised drug trafficking activities, said the court, and passed his case back to the lower Dalian court for a retrial without specifying a date.

According to a court statement published online after the appeal hearing, he was found guilty of drug smuggling and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, ordered to pay about $22,000 (150,000 yuan) and to be deported.

China severely punishes those caught smuggling or trafficking drugs, including foreigners. It is not known where the two are being held.

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China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters that it was aware of reports Ms McIver had been released, and referred further questions to the "relevant authority". It did not elaborate. She has since been released on bail and remains under surveillance as she prepares to fight extradition to the US, which accuses her of fraud and lying to banks about business activities in Iran. Hua also added that the teacher's situation was different from the two other Canadian detainees. Meng has said she is innocent.

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