China sentences Canadian to death for drug offences

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese court sentenced a Canadian national to death on Tuesday for producing and trafficking the addictive stimulant methamphetamine, amid heightened tension between Beijing and Ottawa over the arrest of a Huawei Technologies executive.

Canadian Fan Wei was a leader in the production and trafficking scheme, the Jiangmen Intermediate People's Court said in a statement.

In response, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland condemned the use of the death penalty, calling it "cruel and inhumane punishment which should not be used in any country."

"We're very concerned by this sentence. Canada stands firmly opposed to the use of the death penalty everywhere... We are obviously particularly concerned when it is applied to Canadians," she told reporters in Ottawa.

Canada's foreign ministry, in a separate statement, said Canadian officials attended the verdict and sentencing for Fan, and called on China to grant him clemency.

"Global Affairs Canada has been closely following this case and has been providing consular assistance to Mr. Fan and his family since he was first detained in 2012," it added.

Another suspect, Wu Ziping, was sentenced to death but Wu's nationality was not given.

The court also issued judgments against nine other people, including one American and four Mexicans.

It did not specify what sentences five of the nine received, though it indicated the minimum they got was life in prison. It said the other four were jailed but did not say for how long.

Court officials could not be reached for comment.

All 11 can appeal their sentences.

Fan is the second Canadian to be sentenced to death for drug offences in China this year, during a period of escalating tension between the two countries.

In December, Canadian police arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, at the request of U.S. prosecutors.

U.S. prosecutors have portrayed the company as a threat to national security and alleged it conspired to violate U.S. sanctions. Both Meng, who is out on bail, and Huawei deny the allegations.

China recently arrested two Canadians on national security grounds.

China has also canceled Canadian agribusiness Richardson International Ltd's registration to ship canola to China this year.

(Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Robert Birsel and Bernadette Baum)

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