China charges 2 Canadians with spying in Huawei-linked case
Jun 20 2020
Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada's former ambassador to China between 2012 and 2016, said the formal charges will make it much more hard to negotiate Kovrig and Spavor's safe return to Canada.
Trudeau called it a very hard time for the two Canadians and their families.
The People's Procuratorate of Beijing Municipality filed a prosecution against former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig on Friday for "spying on state secrets and intelligence".
State media reported on Friday that formal proceedings against Kovrig and Spavor had begun in Beijing and Dandong, a city on the border with North Korea.
Prosecutors announced Friday that Kovrig and Spavor had been charged.
Trudeau said the Canadian government has "continued to express our disappointment with the Chinese detention of these two Canadians, and we will continue to advocate for their release and their return to Canada while highlighting that we have an independent judicial system that is going through its processes in a way that is separate from political interference".
The state-run tabloid said that authorities stressed China was a country "run by the rule of law and will resolutely crack down on criminal activities that jeopardize national security".
"Using arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals, worldwide or domestic, is something that is of concern not just to Canada but to all our allies, who have been highlighting that this is not acceptable behaviour in the global community because they are all anxious about China engaging in the same kinds of pressure tactics with them", he said. Trudeau didn't alter his message or change his tone when asked about China's latest move in their cases, which he described as retaliation for Meng's arrest.
Kovrig and Spavor were detained nine days after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on a USA warrant, in what is widely believed to have been a retaliatory move from China.
The United States wants Meng extradited to face trial on charges related to the Chinese telecom equipment maker's alleged violations of USA sanctions against Iran. It follows a Canadian court's move to allow the Chinese executive's United States extradition to proceed.
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.
She remains out on bail as hearings at the B.C. Supreme Court continue in her case.
Mr Kovrig's case is being handled by prosecutors in Beijing, and Mr Spavor's is in the north-eastern province of Liaoning.
China has also blocked billions in Candian agricultural exports, including suspending imports of Canadian canola oil. Meng, who is also the daughter of the Chinese mobile giant's founder, was taken into custody by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at Vancouver International Airport as she was traveling from Mexico to Hong Kong.
They argue Meng's statements provided the bank with "the material facts it needed to know in order to assess whether there was any risk to HSBC in continuing to provide banking services to Huawei, including processing US dollar transactions related to Huawei's commerce in Iran".