The Canadian Politician (Toronto) – China today accused two Canadian citizens it had arrested weeks earlier of stealing state secrets. It is the first time it has provided any details as to the charges the men are facing. The two men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were picked up by the Chinese authorities following the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei. Meng was on her way to Mexico and South America on vacation when she was arrested on a U.S. arrest warrant on a stopover in Vancouver.
The accusations announced today prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to issue the following statement, “We are obviously very concerned with this position that China has taken.” Though China has not made a link between the arrest of the men and that of Meng, it is widely believed that they were arrested to check Canadian behavior and action towards Meng, who is the daughter of the founder of Huawei.
A Chinese statement stated that Kovrig who is a dual Canadian and Hungarian citizen on a regular passport and business visa had been “stealing and spying on sensitive Chinese information and intelligence via a contact in China.” The statement further stated that “Spavor was Kovrig’s main contact and provided him with intelligence.” The statement continued that the men would be subjected to the judicial process which will start soon.
The Chinese action is coming on the heels of a Canadian court authorizing on Friday the extradition hearing of Meng, a process that may see her extradited to the United States to face charges of circumvention of international sanctions placed on Iran.
The statement concluded that “China is a country with rule of law and will firmly crack down on criminal acts that severely undermine national security.” While the two Canadian men have had access to consular services, sources say they have not been granted access to legal counsel or family members. On the contrast, Meng who is on bail at her home in Vancouver, has access to her legal team and has had the chance to sue the Canadian Border Services Agency for false detention.