Canada's Foreign Minister Stephane Dion gestures during his visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, also known as the notorious security prison S-21, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia September 2, 2016. REUTERS/Samrang Pring(reuters_tickers)
MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canada did not make concessions to China to secure the return of a Canadian citizen who spent two years in jail and was convicted of spying, Foreign Minister Stephane Dion insisted on Friday.
Kevin Garratt, who was charged in January with spying and stealing state secrets, was convicted on Tuesday, released on bail and then deported to Canada on Thursday.
The unexpected release prompted speculation on what Ottawa might have offered China, which is variously seeking a free trade deal with Canada, more relaxed investment rules and the extradition of what Beijing says are corrupt officials.
"The prime minister ... would never do these types of things," Dion told reporters when asked what concessions Canada had made.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has made improving relations with China a priority, had pressed Garratt's case while on an official visit to China this month.
"It's one less topic to discuss with the Chinese ... and we'll be able to focus on other issues," said Dion. Chinese premier Li Keqiang is due in Canada next week on an official visit.
(Reporting by Allison Lampert; Writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chris Reese and James Dalgleish)