Canadians Michael Spavor (left) and Michael Coffrig are accused of spying by China. Photo: Facebook
After more than 27 months in prison in China, Canadians Michael Coffrig and Michael Spavor will be on trial for espionage.
The arrest of Kovrig and Spavor is widely seen in the West as an act of retaliation by Beijing for the arrest of a Chinese businesswoman in Canada accused by the United States of committing multiple economic crimes.
Covrig and Spavor were arrested in China on December 10, 2018 – nine days after Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer, Ming Wanzhou, was arrested on landing in Vancouver.
Meng, who is currently holding an extradition hearing in the United States, has been under house arrest in Vancouver since 2018.
Canada will be on the side of the accused
“Our embassy in Beijing has been informed that the hearings of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig will be held, respectively, on March 19 (Friday) and March 22 (next Monday),” Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement.
We believe these arrests are arbitrary and we remain deeply disturbed by the lack of transparency surrounding these procedures. “
Mr. Garneau said that ending the “arbitrary detention” of the Canadians remains a top priority for the liberal government, and that Ottawa will continue to support the two men during the trial.
“According to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the Consular Agreement between China and Canada, they have also requested to attend the trial,” he said.
The nature of the charges against the Canadian “spies”
Chinese authorities have accused Michael Covrig, a former Canadian diplomat who worked with the International Crisis Group (ICG), of “stealing information and sensitive information through contacts in China since 2017.”
Michael Spavor, a Beijing-based businessman who specializes in North Korea, is accused of providing information to Kovrig.
Chinese officials have not disclosed any evidence against the two men or detailed information about their alleged crimes, but they said, “The facts are clear and the evidence is strong.”
Americans stand in solidarity with the Canadians
Michael will be tried as US and Chinese officials meet in Alaska, the first time such high-level talks have taken place since Joe Biden became president.
And US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who will represent Washington at the meeting, had already spoken in favor of the Canadians, calling for “their immediate and unconditional release.” “
Vice President Kamala Harris told Trudeau in a phone call in February that Washington “stands in strong solidarity with Canada on the issue of Canadian citizens unfairly detained by China.” “
Last month, Canada’s parliament approved a non-binding motion accusing China of committing genocide against Muslim minorities in the western region of Xinjiang, further strained relations between the two countries.
Read more: Angus Reed says the vast majority of Canadians are bitter about China
RCI with CNN and CBC