China confirms formal arrest of two Canadians after months-long detention
The two men – Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a China-based businessman who organized trips to North Korea – were detained last December.
China’s Foreign Ministry said Kovrig was arrested on charges of gathering state secrets, and Spavor on charges of stealing secrets for overseas forces.Also on rt.com 2nd Canadian in 2 days: Businessman chummy with Kim Jong-un detained in China
“Canada strongly condemns their arbitrary arrest, as we condemned their arbitrary detention on December 10,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued to Canadian newspaper, the Globe and Mail.
Initially, the Canadians were accused of activities that “endanger China’s security” – a phrase that Beijing uses to describe espionage. Later, China announced it suspected Kovrig of spying and stealing state secrets with Spavor’s help.
They were held days after Canada detained top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US extradition request, which sparked assumptions that it was a retaliatory act by Beijing.Also on rt.com Trade war hostage? Trump ready to ‘intervene’ in Huawei CFO case if it helps close deal with China
Meng, who is currently on bail, faces charges of fraud related to an alleged breach of US sanctions on Iran. Canada seems to be bearing the brunt of China’s backlash, with Meng largely regarded as a bargaining chip in the ongoing US trade war with China.
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