World News

China charges detained Canadians with spying

June 19, 2020 02:17 PM

BEIJING:China has charged two Canadians with spying, more than 18 months after they were detained, a media report said on Friday.
Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman, have been held in China since December 2018, said the BBC report.
Their arrest came just days after Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei and daughter of the company's founder, was detained in Vancouver on December 1 2018, at the request of the US who accuse her of breaking Iranian sanctions.
She is still fighting extradition to the US.
Nine days after Meng's arrest, the two Canadians were detained. They were formally arrested in May 2019, after which they had 13-and-a-half months to be charged.

Kovrig's employer, the Crisis Group, has said on its website that he has not seen a lawyer or his family since the detention, and that he only has "periodic consular visits".

"Michael's work has included meeting... Chinese officials, academics and analysts from multiple Chinese state institutions," the BBC quoted Crisis Group as saying

"He has attended numerous conferences at the invitation of Chinese organisations. He frequently appears on Chinese television and in other media to comment on regional issues.

"Nothing Michael does has harmed China."

The Free Michael Spavor website, updated earlier this year, said he was "behind bars, without his family, and without access to lawyers".

"Michael is an earnest, genuine, and impossibly fun person, who we believe has been detained in error," the website says.

In April 2019, it was reported that both men were being interrogated for between six to eight hours a day, and were sometimes subject to 24-hour artificial lighting, the BBC report said.

The Chinese government has said that the men were in "good health".

Canada has called the arrests "arbitrary", but China denies they were retaliation for Meng's detention.

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