Canadian teacher detained in China has been released

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But the court ordered a retrial after it adopted the prosecutors' opinion that they had found new evidence revealing the defendant was "very likely" to have played "an important role in the activities of drug smuggling".

Global Affairs Canada, the government department that manages Ottawa's diplomatic and consular relations, confirmed that the Canadian teacher is back home without naming the person.

The High People's Court in Liaoning province heard the appeal by the Canadian, whom it identified as Robert Lloyd Schellenberg.

China detained Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor separately after Canada arrested Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, CFO for the Chinese technology company Huawei, in Vancouver on December 1, for possible extradition to the US.

"Global Affairs can confirm that a Canadian citizen, who was detained in China this month, has been released and has now returned to Canada".

Tensions between the two governments have been high since Canada's arrest of a high-ranking Chinese executive at the request of the United States this month, followed by China's detainment of two Canadian citizens on suspicion of endangering state security.

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The last foreigner to be tried for drug smuggling was British national Akmal Shaikh, who was caught in 2007 while smuggling over 4 kilograms of heroin into China.

An appeals court agreed with prosecutors who said Schellenberg was punished too leniently when he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of being an accessory to drug smuggling.

Chinese foreign ministry, earlier this month, has said McIver has been undergoing "administrative punishment" for working much illegally.

The other two are a Canadian diplomat on leave and a Canadian businessperson trading with North Korea.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed that McIver's case does not appear to be linked to that of the other two detainees.

China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters that it was aware of reports McIver had been released, and referred further questions to the "relevant authority".