Second Canadian possibly detained in China (2018)

Two Canadians held in China were formally charged with espionage

The Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate filed a lawsuit against Coverage on Friday for “spying on state secrets and intelligence.” The public prosecution in Dandong also filed a public prosecution against Spafor on charges of “spying on state secrets and presenting them illegally.”

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of China Technology Corporation Huawei, was arrested in Vancouver in late 2018, on charges that were filed in the United States.

US prosecutors want to try Ming on multiple charges, including bank fraud and violating US sanctions on Iran.

Outside mainland China, the new charges will raise concerns in Hong Kong about the impending national security law, which Beijing will impose on the city, bypassing domestic legislation.

This week, G7 countries said in Joint statement The proposed law “could reduce and threaten the fundamental rights and freedoms of all residents (in Hong Kong) who are protected by the rule of law and an independent judicial system.”

Arbitrary detention

Kovrig was a former diplomat in Beijing and worked for the International Crisis Group (ICG). Spavor is the founder of Paektu Cultural Exchange, a company that helps facilitate flights to North Korea. It helped former NBA player Dennis Rodman travel to Pyongyang to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Canadian government has repeatedly described their detention as “arbitrary”. Family members and the two men described their detention in poor conditions, and were denied external contact.

Jay Saint Jacques, who served as Canada’s ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016, told CNN last year that Spavor was being held in a detention facility in the northeastern Dandong Province, and was sharing a dungeon with up to 18 other prisoners, while keeping the lights on throughout 24 hours a day and only 15 minutes outside time. San Jacques said Coffrigue is being held in Beijing, and that neither man has had access to a lawyer or a member of his family since his first arrest.

“In both cases, they receive consular visits once a month, exactly 30 minutes, with someone there observing all discussions,” he said. “These are mainly working to give them news about their families, give them books and other reading materials. It is very difficult for them, they are waiting and have no idea when and how they will be released.”

One person familiar with the situation told CNN that Canadian diplomatic efforts have so far focused on trying to resolve the remaining complex political entanglement.

He added that there is a greater geopolitical game taking place between China and the United States, where Canada is somewhat stuck in the middle, and it is the Canadians who are paying the price.

Saint-Jacques agreed that China’s problem with the United States is, “But of course it does not dare arrest any former (American) diplomats or diplomats on vacation.”

He said that China was surprised by the widespread international condemnation of its arrest of the Canadians, but unlike the mobilization of support from allies, there is not much Ottawa can do. “It is very difficult to find something because we do not have much of what the Chinese really want,” he said.

In a statement marking the anniversary of his arrest last year, the Spafor family said that “it was caught by an unintended human pawn and unwilling in a confrontation between two superpowers, washed away by geopolitical currents and forces beyond their control.”

Shanshan Wang and Steve George of CNN contributed to the reporting.

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