Former prime minister Paul Martin, taking advantage of a meeting with China's Prime Minister, has thrown his weight behind the Conservative government's demands on the Huseyin Celil case.
Mr. Martin, who met Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao for 35 minutes in Shanghai yesterday, gave his support to the Conservative government's call for consular access to Mr. Celil, the Canadian citizen who is imprisoned in China.
It was the highest-level meeting at which a Canadian politician has raised the Celil case in China so far. In the past, Canada has raised the case in meetings with Chinese cabinet ministers, but never with the Prime Minister.
Mr. Martin is an adviser to the African Development Bank, which is holding its annual board meeting in China this week for the first time in its history.
Most of his meeting with Mr. Wen yesterday was focused on China's role in investing in Africa. But they also discussed Canada-China issues, human rights and the Celil case, according to a spokesman for Mr. Martin.
China does not recognize Mr. Celil's Canadian citizenship and has refused to allow Canadian diplomats access to him, despite international agreements that guarantee Canada's right to have access to imprisoned Canadians in China.
Mr. Celil was sentenced to life in prison last month on multiple terrorism-related charges.