Thursday, 16 May 2019


Lucy Hornby in Beijing 44 MINUTES AGO Print this page China has formally arrested two Canadians detained more than five months ago and accused them of state secrets violations, as it keeps up pressure on Ottawa in an escalating dispute over the future of telecommunications firm Huawei. On Wednesday, US president Donald Trump banned Huawei from selling products in the US and required American firms to get a licence before selling to the Chinese company. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is fighting extradition from Canada to the US on charges that her company violated US sanctions on Iran. China has frozen most contacts with Canadian diplomats and blocked shipments of canola, one of Canada’s most important export crops, in order to pressure the country to release Ms Meng, who is also the founder’s daughter. Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat who worked for the International Crisis Group, is accused of spying and gathering intelligence on state secrets. Michael Spavor, who arranged tours into North Korea, was accused of stealing and illegally providing state secrets. The two Canadians were detained in China shortly after Canada arrested Ms Meng, late last year. “We took enforcement measures against Canadian citizens you mentioned in accordance with the law. The procuratorate has now arrested them according to law. China has always acted in accordance with the law, and we hope that Canadian friends will not make irresponsible remarks on China’s judicial handling of cases,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters on Thursday. He said they had been arrested “in recent days.” The state secrets accusations keep the two men under the purview of the security apparatus, walled off from the relative transparency of China’s normal criminal procedures. Under state secrets regulations, the security apparatus is under almost no legal obligation to provide evidence or even reveal details of the alleged crime to defence lawyers or judges. While Ms Meng is allowed to move around Vancouver during the day pending her extradition, the two detained Canadians have been held in solitary confinement, deprived of sleep and interrogated regularly. They have been allowed one brief consular visit per month, and no access to lawyers prior to their formal arrest. Mr Lu would not say where the two men were currently. Mr Kovrig has been held in an undisclosed location near Beijing while Mr Spavor was held in Liaoning province, where he previously owned a business operating tours to North Korea.

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