A letter this week to Trudeau, with signatories including a former Supreme Court justice, former foreign affairs 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 it’s in Canada’s interest. They stressed that ending the process could help release Kovrig and Spavor from what could be years in Chinese detention.
Trudeau shot down the request, saying while he respects the letter’s co-signers, he deeply disagrees with them. Giving into pressure to end Meng’s process, he said, could endanger other Canadians who travel abroad.
“We need to continue to be absolutely crystal clear that Canada has an independent judiciary and those processes will unfold independently of any political pressure — including by foreign governments,” Trudeau said. “We will continue to remain steadfast and strong and say very clearly in our actions and in our words that randomly arresting Canadians doesn’t give you leverage over the government of Canada anywhere in the world.”
Meng’s extradition case — based on fraud charges linked to her alleged violation of American sanctions on Iran — has thrust Canada into the middle of a wider clash between the U.S. and China.
Adding to the complexity are public statements made by President Donald Trump days after Meng’s arrest. During a December 2018 interview, Trump said he would be willing to intervene in her case if it would help the U.S. obtain a trade deal with China or serve other American national security interests.
Beijing, which has demanded Meng’s immediate release and has called Canada a U.S. accomplice in her politically charged arrest, appeared to open the door Wednesday to a prisoner swap.
Zhao Lijian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, suggested that releasing Meng could help the cases of Kovrig or Spavor. During a press conference, he nodded to the public debate in Canada that says Lametti has the legal authority to stop Meng’s extradition process at any point.
“Such options are within the rule of law and could open up space for resolution to the situation of the two Canadians,” Zhao said, according to a Chinese government transcript.
Trudeau, who repeated Thursday that China has made a direct link between the Canadians’ arrests and Meng’s case, said the extradition process does have an element that involves input from the justice minister “at the appropriate time.”
“I feel deeply, not just for the two Michaels who are in a very difficult situation, but their families who have endured a year and a half of difficulties with this arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities,” he said. “But it is not just the two Michaels who are at question here. It is every Canadian who travels to China or anywhere else overseas.”
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 under extreme, harsh conditions.
“Michael is in the fight for his life — this is extremely…