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China Accuses Two Canadians Of Spying

Yesterday, Chinese prosecutors said they charged two Canadians detained for espionage, in an incident that led to diplomatic tensions between Ottawa and Beijing.

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested at the end of 2018 on charges of national security, shortly after the Canadian authorities arrested the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Group Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver by American order.

China has repeatedly called for Meng's release and warned Canada that it could face consequences for helping the United States in Meng Wanzhou's lawsuit.

In December last year, China's Foreign Ministry said it had ended an investigation into two Canadians, and the case was turned over to prosecutors. Kovrig's case, is being handled by prosecutors in Beijing and Spavor, in northeast China's Liaoning province.

The allegations are the next step in judicial proceedings against two Canadian citizens, meaning an official trial can begin.

Canada has called these arrests arbitrary. The Canadian Embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Spavor was accused of stealing state secrets and illegally providing state secrets to entities outside of China, while Kovrig was charged with spying on state secrets and intelligence for entities outside China, according to two notices posted by Chinese prosecutors online.

Earlier this month, Chinese ambassador to Canada Tung Boi Vu said the two men were in "good health", but consular visits were suspended due to coronavirus prevention.

The Chinese Politburo Commission last year said Mr. Kovrig was accused of stealing sensitive Chinese information. They said Mr. Spavor provided Mr. Kovrig's intelligence without detailed information.

Mr. Kovrig works for the International Crisis Group (ICG), a non-governmental organization specializing in conflict resolution. ICG did not comment yesterday.

The ICG has previously said that the charges against Mr. Kovrig are vague and unfounded.

Mr. Spavor, 44, is an entrepreneur with ties to North Korea.

While China says the detention is not related to Meng Wanzhou, former diplomats and experts have previously said they are being used to pressure Canada.

Last month, Meng, the daughter of the founder of telecommunications giant Huawei, failed in a legal effort to avoid extradition to the United States, hoping to end her house arrest in Vancouver. 

If extradited to the US, Ms. Meng is in danger of facing fraud charges in banking procedures, concealing business with Iran, which is being punished by the US. 


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