Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg has been sentenced to death for drug smuggling in China in a ruling which will worsen a diplomatic row between the two countries.
Last year, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was originally given a 15-year jail term but after an appeal the court said the sentence was too lenient.
Today’s ruling comes weeks after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, a top official at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, on a request from the US.
Canada condemned the latest ruling.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said: “It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty, as in this case facing a Canadian.”
China was angered by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, 46, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, and the case has soured its relations with both Canada and the US. She was granted bail in December.
China has since detained two Canadian nationals, accusing them of endangering national security.
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who is believed to be 36, was arrested in 2014 and accused of planning to smuggle almost 500lb of methamphetamine from China to Australia.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in November 2018. However, following an appeal, a high court in the north-eastern city of Dalian on January 14 sentenced the Canadian national to death.
The court also ruled that all of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg’s financial assets must be confiscated.
“I am not a drug smuggler. I came to China as a tourist,” he said just before the verdict was announced, the AFP news agency reports.
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg has 10 days to appeal.
China has denied that it is using its legal system to take hostages as bargaining chips in the Huawei case.
Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on December 1, but was granted bail by a Canadian court several days later.
A judge in Vancouver ruled that Meng Wanzhou would be under surveillance 24 hours a day and must wear an electronic ankle tag.
Meng Wanzhou is accused in the US of using a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom to evade sanctions on Iran between 2009 and 2014.
She denies any wrongdoing and says she will contest the allegations.
President Donald Trump has said he is willing to intervene in the case.
Meng Wanzhou’s arrest came against the background of an increasingly acrimonious trade dispute between the US and China.