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Espionage charges for two Canadians who were arrested in China after Ottawa snatched top Huawei executive on behalf of US

Espionage charges for two Canadians who were arrested in China after Ottawa snatched top Huawei executive on behalf of US
Chinese authorities have brought espionage charges against two Canadian citizens detained after Huawei’s CFO was arrested by Ottawa. It follows a Canadian court’s move to allow the Chinese executive’s US extradition to proceed.

Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat working for a think tank, and Michael Spavor, a consultant specializing in humanitarian exchanges with North Korea, have been formally charged with espionage by the Chinese justice system. The country for which the pair allegedly spied has not been specified.

Two separate notices published by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on Friday said the two Canadians have been formally prosecuted by branches in Beijing and Dandong, with their respective cases entering a phase of “legal review.”

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Both men were detained in China on December 10, 2018, shortly after the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou. Meng, who is also the daughter of the Chinese mobile giant’s founder, was taken into custody by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at Vancouver International Airport as she was traveling from Mexico to Hong Kong.

The Huawei official is currently fighting extradition to the US, where she is accused of financial fraud committed to do business in Iran in violation of US sanctions against the country.

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Last month, the British Columbia Supreme Court passed a ruling in her case, allowing the extradition procedure to move forward. Her defense wanted the case to be dropped, arguing that the core of the accusation against Meng was violating US sanctions, which Canada does not support, and not fraud. The court rejected the argument.

Beijing has repeatedly said the case was “political” in nature and that the CFO was effectively held “hostage” amid a trade war between the US and China.

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