The two men were arrested in December 2018 and detained. Canada accuses Beijing of taking revenge for the arrest of an executive of the Chinese company Huawei.
The diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Ottawa is getting worse. China announced Thursday (May 16th) the formal arrest of two Canadians detained since December 2018 for spying. According to Beijing, “Michael Kovrig [former diplomat] is suspected of the crime of collecting state secrets and intelligence abroad.” Michael Spavor [North Korea specialist] is suspected of the crime of having stolen and illegally transmitted state secrets to overseas “.
The two men were arrested a few days after Canada arrested, at the request of US justice, the financial director of China’s telecommunications giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou. Washington is demanding the extradition of Meng Wanzhou to the United States, where she is accused of complicity in fraud to circumvent sanctions against Iran. His arrest opened an unprecedented diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing.
- Arbitrary arrest by Canada
The procedure against both Canadians is widely perceived in the West as a reprisal. China firmly denies, claiming to be “a state of law”, even if the justice remains under the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “Canada strongly condemns their arbitrary arrest, as we condemned their arbitrary detention on December 10,” said the Canadian Foreign Ministry.
According to the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail, the two men were first detained in a secret place, under the Chinese judicial system that allows people to detain for six months without formally arresting them. But the arrest of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor automatically led to their transfer to a detention center in good standing, a priori synonymous with better living conditions, said the daily.
An official Canadian source told AFP in March that the two men were “almost daily interrogatories.” Canadian parliamentarians have denounced “totally unacceptable” detention conditions. Chinese justice has sentenced to death in recent months two other Canadians found guilty of drug trafficking. A sentence that Ottawa denounces as “cruel and inhuman”.