A coalition of countries mostly located in the West has formed to oppose the detention of foreign nationals in order to gain diplomatic leverage, a move the group says is not aimed at any one nation in particular, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Canada led the formation of the group, which includes the United States and almost all of the members of the European Union, along with Australia and Japan. The coalition signed a nonbinding declaration opposing the practice that coincides with the launch of an initiative by the Canadian foreign ministry raising support from other countries to stop the “illegal and immoral” incarcerations.
He added, by forming a group, “we believe we have a better chance of exerting pressure on those countries that do practice arbitrary detentions.”
Two Canadians were detained in China in December 2018 on accusations of espionage, but Canada claims they were incarcerated in retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese technology executive on a U.S. extradition request.
Many Western diplomats have accused the countries of China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea of detaining foreign nationals to act as bargaining chips for the purpose of gaining diplomatic leverage.
United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said at a virtual press conference hosted by Canada the “use of arbitrary detention, particularly as a threat, or as a means to influence others, is cruel. It’s wrong.”
A spokesperson for U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who earlier this month demanded the release of two Americans detained in Russia during a phone call with his counterpart from the country, said in a statement, “the Secretary reiterated President [Joe] Biden’s resolve to protect American citizens and act firmly in defense of U.S. interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies.”
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