Beijing: Chinese authorities have indicted two Canadians on spying allegations, pressing ahead with a case diplomatically entwined with U.S. efforts to extradite a top Huawei Technologies Co. executive from Canada.
The formal charges against Michael Kovrig, a Hong Kong-based International Crisis Group analyst and a former Canadian diplomat, and Michael Spavor, who organized trips to North Korea, suggest they’ll soon face trial after more than 18 months of detention. Kovrig was charged with spying on state secrets while Spavor was accused of stealing and illegally providing state secrets to other countries, according to statements released Friday by prosecutors in Beijing and the northeastern border city of Dandong.
The cases have been closely linked with the U.S. push to extradite Huawei executive Meng Wangzhou from Canada. The pair were taken into custody in December 2018, days after Meng’s arrest in Vancouver, and their cases were formally transferred to prosecutors a year later. If convicted of the charges, the could face years in prison.
The Canadian Embassy in Beijing and the media relations department for Global Affairs Canada didn’t immediately respond Friday to requests for comment. Canada has repeatedly denounced the prosecutions of Kovrig and Spavor as arbitrary and demanded their release.
Chinese Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu said in an interview with Reuters last week that consular services for Kovrig and Spavor had been suspended due to coronavirus-control measures earlier this year. He said the two were “in good health.”
Meng — Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of its founder — last month failed to persuade a Canadian judge to end U.S. extradition proceedings, keeping her under house arrest in Vancouver. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday called her arrest an “outright political case with grave consequences,” and said Canada had been acting as a U.S. “accomplice” to oppress Chinese technology companies.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that Canada would continue to speak its mind with China on contentious issues, including the fate of the two detainees. On Wednesday, Canada joined the Group of Seven foreign ministers urging China to withdraw plans to impose national security legislation mirroring Chinese law on the former British colony of Hong Kong.- Bloomberg