US calls China's death sentence for Canadian man 'politically motivated'

US calls China's death sentence for Canadian man 'politically motivated'
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The U.S. State Department on Wednesday said China's death sentence against a Canadian man was "politically motivated."

Deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran Trump doubles down on Graham: 'How did going into Iraq work out?' MORE and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke Tuesday and "expressed their concerns about the arbitrary detentions and politically motivated sentencing of Canadian nationals."

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A Chinese court on Monday sentenced Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death for being an accessory to drug smuggling.

Schellenberg, who was first detained more than four years ago, was sentenced to 15 years of prison in 2016. He has maintained that he is innocent.

After the court's decision, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused China of "arbitrarily" applying the death penalty in Schellenberg's case.

China responded on Tuesday.

“The remarks by the relevant Canadian person lack the most basic awareness of the legal system,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news briefing. “We urge the Canadian side to respect the rule of law, respect China’s legal sovereignty, correct its mistakes, and stop making irresponsible remarks.”

Schellenberg's sentencing comes more than a month after Canadian authorities detained Meng Wanzhou, an executive with Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies.

In the weeks following Meng's arrest, China detained two Canadian citizens on suspicion of "engaging in activities that endanger the national security." A third Canadian was detained and later released.

Pompeo and Freeland "noted their continued commitment to Canada’s conduct of a fair, unbiased, and transparent legal proceeding and U.S. extradition request with respect to Ms. Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei," Palladino said on Wednesday.