China begins prosecution of Canadians Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor

China begins prosecution of Canadians Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor

China begins prosecution of Canadians Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor

Last September Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was uncharacteristically strident in his denunciation of China's actions.

Chinese prosecutors said Friday that Kovrig was charged on suspicion of spying for state secrets and intelligence.

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested in late 2018 on state security charges, soon after Canadian authorities arrested Huawei Technologies Co's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Vancouver on a us warrant.

In his daily media appearance Friday morning, Trudeau said Canada is offering all its support to both the men and their families and continues to object to their detention.

Trudeau called it a very hard time for the two Canadians and their families.

"I'm disappointed with the decision and the next step taken by the Chinese", he said.

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were picked up by the Ministry of State Security on December 10, days after the arrest of Meng, Huawei's chief financial officer, over allegations the telecommunications equipment giant breached U.S. sanctions on Iran. The daughter of Huawei's founder was arrested at the request of USA authorities who want her on fraud charges related to trade with Iran.

The move comes just weeks after a key ruling in the Meng case where a Canadian judge ruled that proceedings to extradite her to the United States will go ahead. It follows a Canadian court's move to allow the Chinese executive's U.S. extradition to proceed.

Activists and academics have raised serious concerns about the independence of the Chinese judiciary, with critics accusing the court system of being an organ of the Communist party.

Shortly after her arrest, Chinese authorities, in an apparent retaliation, detained the two Canadians living in China and accused them of espionage.

Wrapped up in the case is Huawei's bid to be a player in Canada's 5G network, which was put in doubt after Bell and Telus announced partnerships with the Chinese company's European rivals.

This week, it was announced that Kovrig and Spavor are now facing charges.

Under that article, a conviction can carry a sentence of from 10 years to life imprisonment.

"The facts are clear and the evidence is solid and sufficient", Zhao said at regular news briefing.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been imprisoned for 18 months and have only been charged after the Huawei CFO lost her extradition appeal. "Up until now it's been one mainly of appeasement", he said. "Michael was not endangering China's security: everything he was doing was in the open and well known to China's authorities".

Mr Kovrig's case is being handled by prosecutors in Beijing, and Mr Spavor's is in the north-eastern province of Liaoning. The foreign ministry said on Friday that consular visits to detainees had been suspended due the coronavirus.

Earlier this month, China's envoy to Canada, Cong Peiwu, told Reuters the two detained men were "in good health".

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