A Canadian citizen will face trial over drug-smuggling charges in China’s northeastern Liaoning Province on Saturday, amid media reports of another Canadian, who was earlier detained for “working illegally” in China, being released.
“I have taken note of the notice that an appeal on the drug-smuggling charges against Robert Lloyd Schellenberg will be heard by Liaoning Higher People’s Court,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said when asked to respond on the Canadian’s case.
“I would refer you to the competent authority for specifics. China and Canada maintain unimpeded consular communication. We will provide necessary assistance for the Canadian side to fulfill its consular duties,” Hua added.
Citing a statement released on the official website of Liaoning Higher People’s Court on Wednesday, China’s Global Times newspaper reported that “the court will accept and hear the case of appellant Schellenberg at 2:00pm local time Saturday.”
The Canadian national was held by local authorities and believed to have smuggled an “enormous amount” of drugs, ECNS, the English-language website of China News Service, reported citing runsky.com, a website run by the Dalian Radio and Television Station.
The amount of drugs that he allegedly smuggled “will surprise you when it goes public,” Global Times stated, also citing runsky.com.
The Chinese newspaper explained that the trafficking of drugs is a felony in China, especially when the amount is enormous.
Schellenberg is the first foreigner to be tried in China on drug-smuggling charges in nine years. The last foreigner to be tried for drug smuggling was British national Akmal Shaikh, who was caught in 2007 while smuggling over 4 kilograms of heroin into China.
Canadian teacher released
Schellenberg’s trial comes amid reports in international media that another Canadian, Sarah McIver – who was taken into “administrative detention” for “working illegally” in China – has been released and has returned to Canada.
Global Affairs Canada, the government department that manages Ottawa’s diplomatic and consular relations, confirmed that the Canadian teacher is back home without naming the person.
“Global Affairs can confirm that a Canadian citizen, who was detained in China this month, has been released and has now returned to Canada,” BBC quoted the department’s spokesman Richard Walker as saying.
“Due to the provisions under the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed,” he added.
Chinese Foreign Ministry had confirmed last week that a local public security authority imposed an “administrative penalty” on McIver for “illegal employment.”
Two other Canadian nationals, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and business consultant Michael Spavor, remain under detention in China on suspicion of “engaging in activities that endangered China’s national security.”