Chinese court upholds Canadian prisoner Robert Schellenberg's death sentence.
Michael Spavor's verdict is expected later this week.
On Tuesday, a Chinese court upheld Canadian prisoner Robert Schellenberg's death sentence for drug smuggling — just one day before another court is scheduled to rule on the case of another Canadian accused of spying.
The two Canadians' court appearances come as lawyers in Canada representing Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's detained chief financial officer, make a final push to persuade a British Columbia judge to release her. Supreme Court to deny her extradition to the United States, where she faces charges of sanctions violation.
Schellenberg was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to 15 years in prison in late 2018.
He appealed, but a court in Dalian sentenced him to death in January 2019, less than a month after Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on a US warrant for allegedly misleading HSBC Holdings PLC about Huawei's business dealings in Iran, thereby causing the bank to violate American economic sanctions.
Meng, who has maintained her innocence, has been fighting extradition from her Vancouver home.
The Liaoning High Court heard Schellenberg's appeal against the death sentence last May and confirmed the verdict on Tuesday.
It has referred the case to China's supreme court for review, as required by law prior to carrying out any death sentences.
A verdict is expected later this week, possibly as soon as tomorrow, for fellow Canadian Michael Spavor, who has been detained by China since late 2018 on suspicion of espionage.
Spavor was arrested by Chinese authorities on Dec. 10, 2018 — nine days after Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies' chief financial officer, was arrested in Vancouver while changing planes. Meng was arrested on US charges stemming from alleged dealings with Iran.
Michael Kovrig, another Canadian, was arrested concurrently with Spavor. Kovrig is still awaiting a verdict following the conclusion of his March trial.
Ottawa has repeatedly chastised the Chinese government for what it has described as Spavor and Kovrig's "arbitrary detention" and the secrecy surrounding their cases.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau condemned the decision and urged China to pardon Schellenberg.
Canada's ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, also urged China to grant clemency in a telephone interview with reporters following the hearing.
The ambassador stated that Canadian diplomats communicated with Schellenberg following the ruling but declined to elaborate.
"He is astonishingly composed," Barton observed. "We had a good conversation," Barton said, adding that he would travel to the northeastern city of Dandong later Tuesday to meet Spavor.
According to Barton, a court in Dandong, which is located on a river bordering North Korea, is expected to deliver a verdict on Spavor on Wednesday. As for Kovrig, the ambassador said, "we have received no indication of that." Asked whether the three cases were connected to Meng's, Barton said, "I don't believe it's a coincidence that these are occurring concurrently with events in Vancouver." He added that the case was "part of the geopolitical process of what is occurring."
According to Barton, diplomats from the United States, Germany, Australia, and France attended Tuesday's hearing. He thanked them and other governments for their expressions of support for Canada.
Schellenberg's family declined to comment Monday, but a friend acting on their behalf released a written statement saying they remain hopeful that diplomatic efforts between Canada and China will result in the "best possible outcome for Bob." Earlier this year, officials from the Canadian Embassy in Beijing were denied access to Kovrig's trial.
Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister, and U.S. President Joe Biden spoke about Spavor and Kovrig during a phone call last week, condemning their detention and pledging that the US would support Canada's efforts to secure their release.
The US is seeking to extradite Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is the daughter of the company's founder, to face charges that she lied to Hong Kong banks about possible trade sanctions violations with Iran.
A request for comment from China's foreign ministry was not immediately returned.