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Canadian detained in China released from custody

Canada announced Friday that one of its citizens detained in China earlier this month has returned after being released from custody.

The Canadian government identified her as teacher Sarah McIver, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

China’s Foreign Ministry said earlier in December that McIver was undergoing “administrative punishment” for working illegally.

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McIver was the third Canadian detained in China this month after the Dec. 1 arrest of Chinese technology executive Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the tech giant Huawei.

Meng was taken into custody in Vancouver at the request of the U.S. over charges of violating sanctions against Iran. 

China has demanded Meng be released and maintained that the three Canadian arrests were not related to Meng’s case, but international observers speculated they were made in retaliation to pressure Canada to concede to its demands.

It is not known where the other two Canadians are being held, according to Reuters

Meng’s arrest also inserted uncertainty into negotiations between Washington and Beijing over efforts to end an ongoing trade dispute.

While McIver’s release could ease China-Canada tensions, a Chinese court also ordered a retrial of another Canadian national Saturday detained on drug charges, with prosecutors saying his 15-year sentence was too light.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg made an appeal after being handed down the sentence in November, saying he should have been deported. Prosecutors responded by arguing the sentence was improper because Schellenberg was suspected of being part of an international drug smuggling ring, according to Reuters. Canadian diplomats were in court for the appeal.

The Canadian government told Reuters that it has been following the case for several years and providing consular assistance, but could not provide further details.