Justin Trudeau
File photo of Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking during a news conference at the National Press Theatre | David Kawai | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: China has sharply criticised Canada over comments on its prosecution of two Canadians charged with spying, stating that the matter was based on evidence.

Earlier this month, China charged Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, a former diplomat and a businessman, respectively, from Canada, for suspected espionage and endangering national security.

In response, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had called for an end to their “arbitrary detention” by China. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also demanded their release.

However, a statement by the Chinese embassy in Ottawa Saturday blamed the Canadian leaders for making “irresponsible statements” on the case and urged them to cease “megaphone diplomacy”.

“The facts are clear and evidence solid and sufficient. The accusation of so-called arbitrarily detaining Canadian citizens is totally groundless,” the statement read.

“Chinese judicial organs will continue to handle the above cases strictly in accordance with law, and protect the two Canadians’ lawful rights,” it added.

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Huawei angle to arrests

Kovrig and Spavor were arrested in December 2018, just a few days after Canadian authorities detained Meng Wanzhou, the financial director of Chinese telecommunications major Huawei. The detention was reportedly made on the request of US authorities.

Therefore, Canada believes the charges against the two men were in retaliation to Meng’s arrest. Prime Minister Trudeau also insisted that China has “made a direct link” between Meng’s arrest and Kovrid and Spavor’s detention.

“It has been obvious from the beginning that this was a political decision made by the Chinese government and we deplore it and have from the very beginning,” Trudeau said on 22 June.

Trudeau also rebuffed calls from a group of 20 prominent Canadians Thursday, including Kovrig’s wife, to end Meng’s extradition case in exchange for the release of the two men.

“We cannot allow political pressures or random arrests of Canadian citizens to influence the functioning of our justice system,” the Canadian PM said.

However, in the statement, the Chinese embassy called Meng’s detention as “arbitrary”, describing it as “a grave political incident concocted by the United States to suppress Chinese high-tech enterprises and Huawei, and Canada is its accomplice”.

“Canada should reflect on its mistakes in the Meng Wanzhou incident, stop political manipulation, immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure her safe return to China,” it added.

Also read: To check China’s hostility, India, Taiwan and Japan need an intelligence-sharing alliance


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