In Brief

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg: Canadian sentenced to death in China

Revision of sentence appears to be retaliation for arrest of Huawei official

The Dalian People’s Court in China’s northeast province of Liaoning has sentenced a Canadian man who was convicted of drug trafficking to death.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg had originally been sentenced to 15 years in prison in November last year, after he was arrested in 2014 and accused of plotting to smuggle 222kg of methamphetamine from China to Australia.

However his sentence was unexpectedly reviewed after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, at the request of the United States.

“It is of extreme concern to us as a government – as it should be to all our international friends and allies – that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply a death penalty,” Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said.

The revision of Schellenberg’s sentence is likely to further inflame relations between China and Canada, as two other Canadians are currently being detained in China on national security charges.

“It is a horrific, unfortunate, heartbreaking situation,” Schellenberg’s aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones, told the BBC. “It is our worst case fear confirmed. It is rather unimaginable what he must be feeling and thinking.”

The Washington Post reports that China took the “rare step of inviting foreign media to attend [Schellenberg’s] appeal hearing” earlier this month, with some observers suggesting that Beijing was attempting to use his case to put pressure on Canada to release Meng.

Schellenberg has 10 days to file an appeal against the revised sentence, a move his lawyer has told media they will likely pursue.

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