By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – The Chinese have arrested a Canadian on suspected drug charges, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Monday.
The arrest was confirmed by Global Affairs Canada.
The detention comes amidst news that a Chinese researcher has been escorted from the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Canada.
The lab, in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is one of a handful of facilities in North America that contain the most deadly human and animal diseases.
Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, her husband and an unstated number of the doctor’s students were removed from the lab on July 5.
Canadian officials said the move was the result of a “policy breach” and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are investigating.
The expulsion comes a few months after lab computer specialists went into the doctor’s office when she was absent and replaced her computer. At the same time, Canadian officials started to refuse Qiu permission to embark on her regular trips to China.
Qui came to Canada in 1996 for her medical graduate studies and she works in immunology in the Winnipeg lab. One of her chief duties is to work on creating vaccines for various diseases, including Ebola.
Canadian officials said the public is not at risk.
“We can assure Canadians that there is absolutely no risk to the Canadian public and that the work of the NML continues in support of the health and safety of all Canadians,” an official with the Health Ministry said.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Border Services Agency refused comment on whether anyone has been arrested or is under investigation.
But it could involve a case of a technology leak to China, one expert said.
"The National Microbiology Laboratory would have some pretty sensitive biological research material that...could be shared either with or without authorization with foreign countries," said Gordon Houlden, director of the University of Alberta's China Institute.