Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou granted bail following fraud charges

Chinese authorities are questioning former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig - detained days after the arrest in Canada of a Chinese businesswoman - on suspicion of engaging in activities that harmed China's national security.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on 1 December on a warrant from the USA, accusing her of facilitating evasion of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

U.S. officials have said the arrest was unrelated to the trade talks, but President Donald Trump told Reuters he "would certainly intervene" in the case if it can help strike a deal with China.

"Regardless of what goes on in other countries, Canada is and will always remain a country of the rule of law", the prime minister said, CBC News senior correspondent Katie Simpson reported.

The International Crisis Group said it's aware of reports that one of its employees, former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, has been detained in China. "So we have to look at trade as something that's in the important long-term interest of Canada and China, and look at the legal issue separately".

As for whether Meng might still be a flight risk, Sas says bail being set at $10-million is a strong incentive for her to stay in Vancouver.

This courtroom sketch by Jane Wolsak and released to AFP by the artist shows Meng Wanzhou (R), Huawei's chief financial officer, listening in the courtroom in Vancouver, British Columbia, Dec. 11, 2018.

"The idea that there is retaliation against a Canadian citizen, unwarranted retaliation, will make it even more hard for the Canadian government to squirm its way out of this situation that the United States has presented us with, " he said by phone from Ottawa. Kovrig works for the International Crisis Group, an independent conflict resolution think-tank which said it was seeking his prompt and safe release.

Many were quick to suggest a link between Trump's trade negotiations and Meng's arrest in Canada, although the White House has said that the president was unaware that the CFO would be detained during his face-to-face discussions with Xi.

A bail hearing for Meng is scheduled to continue Monday in Vancouver as the United States seeks to have her extradited on fraud allegations.

China had threatened severe consequences unless Canada released Ms Meng immediately.

Canadian officials say the reason for his detention remains unclear.

The extradition process is scheduled to start on 6 February and could take months, even years, if appeals are made in the case.

"We are looking forward to moving forward to China", she said after the B.C. delegation's stops in South Korea and Japan.

An ICG spokesman said that the organisation has had a presence in China since 2007 but closed their Beijing office in 2016 due to changes in Chinese laws around NGOs.

  • David Armstrong