China arrests 2 Canadians on spy charges after months of detention

Lester Mason
May 18, 2019

Beijing's arrest of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor has been seen as retaliation for Canada's detention in December of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei who now faces extradition to the United States.

Canada criticized China for denying Spavor and Kovrig access to their families or lawyers, while a large number of foreign former diplomats, scholars, and analysts called on Beijing to release the pair.

Meng remains free on a 10-million-Canadian-dollar (7.4-million-US-dollar) bail and resides at one of the mansions in Vancouver she co-owns with her husband.

China confirmed it has formally arrested two Canadians detained since December, in cases that have further strained tensions between the countries.

China has taken the measures in accordance with the law, he said.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were taken into custody last December, shortly after Canada arrested Huawei chief Meng Wanzhou on behalf of the US.

The two were arrested "recently", Lu said without providing a date, adding that he had no information about where they were being held.


In a statement issued hours after Beijing's announcement, Canada's Foreign Ministry said Ottawa "strongly condemns" the "arbitrary arrest" of the two men and demanded their immediate release. He is a senior adviser for the International Crisis Group, which researches peaceful solutions to global conflicts.

The men were detained separately days after the arrest of Huawei. "His work was completely transparent and out in the open for all to see, including for Chinese officials".

Each man had a visit from Canadian diplomats earlier this week, just prior to the formal arrests.

"Assuming the U.S. export ban on Huawei remains unresolved for the next 12-24 months, we highly doubt if China would stick to its timetable of building 5G aggressively", it wrote.

Asked what might prompt him to contact China's President Xi Jinping about the Kovrig and Spavor cases directly, Trudeau said: "What we are always focused on is doing things that are going to help the Canadians being detained, that are in difficulty overseas".

People hold placards calling for China to release Canadian detainees Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig outside a court hearing for Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, March 6, 2019.

Canada is also locked in an internal government debate over whether to permit Huawei's technology to be used in next-generation wireless cellular and data networks, a decision that Trudeau said - as he has before - would not be influenced by politics. Some of Canada's allies are anxious that using Chinese technology in vital communications networks would make the country vulnerable to Chinese espionage.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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