China release detained Canadian women

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Canada's government said this week it had been following the case for several years and providing consular assistance, but could provide no other details, citing privacy concerns.

"I have taken note of the notice that an appeal on the drug-smuggling charges against Robert Lloyd Schellenberg will be heard by Liaoning Higher People's Court", China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said when asked to respond on the Canadian's case.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was tried in 2016 but his case has been publicized by the Chinese press following the December 1 arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei, on USA charges related to trading with Iran.

"Global Affairs can confirm that a Canadian citizen, who was detained in China this month, has been released and has now returned to Canada".

Four other Japanese were executed in China in 2010 for drugs offences.

The last foreigner to be tried for drug smuggling was British national Akmal Shaikh, who was caught in 2007 while smuggling over 4 kilograms of heroin into China.

At the appeal hearing, prosecutors said the sentence was too light and improper, arguing Schellenberg was highly likely to have been part of a worldwide drugs smuggling operation and had played a major role in smuggling the drugs, the statement said.

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Schellenberg's trial comes amid reports in global media that another Canadian, Sarah McIver - who was taken into "administrative detention" for "working illegally" in China - has been released and has returned to Canada.

On December 20th, China's foreign ministry announced that the woman was undergoing "administrative punishment" for working in the country illegally. They have each only been allowed to see Canadian diplomats once since being detained.

The official website of the court released a statement on Wednesday saying the court will accept the appeal of the defendant Schellenberg at 2pm local time Saturday. It did not elaborate.

Meng is sought by the United States for allegedly lying to banks as part of an effort to evade sanctions on Iran.

Both China and Canada have insisted McIver's case was different from Kovrig's and Spavor's.

Her arrest has also heaped uncertainty on efforts by Washington and Beijing to reduce tensions in their trade war.