Canada's Trudeau sidesteps questions on extraditions to China

Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:42pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sidestepped questions on Tuesday on the sensitive topic of possible extraditions to China, saying Canada would stick to high standards when deciding whether to return Chinese citizens.

A statement posted on Trudeau's website said his national security adviser went to Beijing last week and agreed to start talks about an extradition treaty as part of a security dialogue. China, which wants the return of officials suspected of corruption who it says are hiding in Canada, has long pressed for such a treaty.

Some Western countries are reluctant to sign extradition deals with China, partly out of concern about the integrity of its judicial system and treatment of prisoners.

Some people convicted of corruption face the death penalty. Canada refuses to send people to countries without assurances they will not be executed.

"Extradition is certainly one of the things the Chinese have indicated they want to talk about," Trudeau told a televised news conference at the United Nations.

"As everyone knows, Canada has very high standards in terms of extradition treaties in accordance with our values. But we're happy to have a high-level security dialogue," he said.

News of the Beijing meeting revived speculation Ottawa had made concessions to secure the return of Kevin Garratt, a Canadian citizen convicted of spying, whom China deported last week. Canadian officials insist there was no deal.

Garratt's release was widely seen as a triumph for Trudeau, who visited Beijing earlier this month in a bid to seal closer economic ties. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives in Canada on Wednesday for the start of a three-day trip.   Continued...

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a press briefing during the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly