Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "very disappointed" by China charging two detained Canadians with spying Friday (Pic: April 2, 2020) (AP) In this file image made from a video taken on March 28, 2018, Michael Kovrig, an adviser with the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based non-governmental organization, speaks during an interview in Hong Kong.
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested in late 2018 on state security charges, soon after Canadian authorities arrested Huawei Technologies Co's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Vancouver on a us warrant. Spavor was charged in Dandong city near the North Korean border on suspicion of spying for a foreign entity and illegally providing state secrets.
Both Kovrig and Spavor were initially detained in China in December 2018 in what is widely believed to have been a retaliatory move from China following the arrest of top Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, in Canada on a US warrant relating to multiple charges, including bank fraud and violating USA sanctions against Iran.
USA prosecutors want Meng to stand trial on multiple charges, including bank fraud and violating USA sanctions against Iran. "He should be held accountable for criminal responsibility under the above mentioned charge", Zhao said of Kovrig, before making the same statement about Spavor. A judge rejected the first set of arguments from her lawyers late last month in a bid to set her free.
Trudeau said last month that Canada would continue to speak its mind with China on contentious issues, including the fate of the two detainees.
China has denied any explicit link between her case and the lengthy detention of the two Canadian men, but outside experts see them as tied and Chinese diplomats have strongly implied a connection.
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Chinese authorities have brought espionage charges against two Canadian citizens detained after Huawei's CFO was arrested by Ottawa. Meng's case is now moving into a second phase, when the defense will challenge the lawfulness of her arrest.
The daughter of Huawei's founder and the company itself deny any wrongdoing.
Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne responded in turn by calling for the release of the two "arbitrarily detained" Canadian men.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the government's "naive approach to Beijing" has hampered efforts to release Spavor and Kovrig.
In May this year, a court in Canada ruled that proceedings to extradite Meng to the USA could go ahead.
China has also blocked billions in Candian agricultural exports, including suspending imports of Canadian canola oil.
Meng is accused of lying to an HSBC executive in Hong Kong in August 2013 about Huawei's relationship with Skycom, a company prosecutors claim was violating US economic sanctions against Iran. It also says Huawei's equipment represents a security risk to the west and is urging other nations not to purchase Huawei's 5G technology.