A 36-year-old Canadian man may have just become a bargaining chip between China and Canada. Robert Schellenberg was sentenced to death for drug smuggling on Monday, and the Wall Street Journal reports that Beijing appears to be trying to get leverage after the arrest of a Chinese business executive in Canada. Schellenberg had been sentenced to 15 years after a trial late last year, but a higher court made the unusual decision to retry him three weeks ago. That decision came after Canada, at the request of the US, detained the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies on allegations that her company violated trade sanctions in regard to Iran. Schellenberg has been in custody four years.
"I am not a drug smuggler," he told the court Monday, per the National. "I came to China as a tourist." He said a friend recommended a translator for his visit, and that translator ended up being connected to an international drug-smuggling ring. In addition to the tough new sentence, China also has detained two Canadian nationals since the arrest of Huawei's Meng Wanzhou, notes Reuters. (Meng has been freed on bail in Vancouver but is not allowed to leave the country.)