TORONTO — While the release of the two Michaels is reason for celebration, there are at least four other Canadians still detained in China.
On Friday night, news broke that Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig — two Canadians detained on espionage charges since December 2018 – had been released and were on a flight back to Canada.
But four other Canadians remain detained in China without a timeline for their return.
Similar to the cases of Spavor and Kovrig, Robert Schellenberg’s arrest is largely considered retaliation after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested on extradition charges in Vancouver back in 2018.
Schellenberg, originally from Abbotsford, B.C., was sentenced to 15 years in prison on drug smuggling charges in December 2018, just weeks after Meng’s detention.
In January 2019, Schellenberg’s sentenced was increased to death and was upheld on appeal in August 2021.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this death sentence for Mr. Schellenberg, we continue to seek clemency on his behalf. Canada opposes the death penalty in all cases and that continues with respect to that particular case,” Justice Minister David Lametti told reporters on Aug. 10.
Xu Weihong was sentenced to death on drug charges on Aug. 7, 2020, after allegedly gathering the ingredients and tools required to make ketamine, according to Chinese state media.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Xu’s sentence had been handled “independently in strict accordance with Chinese law and legal procedures” and should not impact relations between Canada and China.
Ye Jianhui, a Canadian citizen, was sentenced to death in August 2020 after being found guilty of manufacturing and transporting illegal drugs just one day after Xu’s sentence.
While details are sparse about Ye’s case, Chinese state media has reported that he and a co-defendant named Lu Hanchang were found with 218 kilograms of white crystals infused with the MDMA from a room the two used.
Fan Wei, a Canadian citizen, was sentenced to death in April 2019 in a multinational drug smuggling case. Fan and a Chinese citizen were the only ones among 11 people charged at the time to given the death penalty.
The Canadian government has requested for clemency of Fan.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press