Court dates set for two Canadians detained in China on espionage charges

Court dates set for two Canadians detained in China on espionage charges”

"Canadian officials are seeking continued consular access to Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the China-Canada Consular Agreement, and have also requested to attend the proceedings", he said.

China arrested former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor in December 2018 soon after Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecom giant Huawei, on a U.S. warrant.

Their detention came shortly after Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei, on a U.S. warrant.

Critics and allies alike have described their detention as retribution for Canada's role in detaining Meng, now at the centre of an ongoing extradition hearing in Vancouver. She is charged with lying to American banks about Huawei's alleged dealings with Iran, in violation of United States sanctions.

The Canadian Embassy in Beijing has been notified that Spavor's court hearing is scheduled for Friday - one day after Chinese and American officials are scheduled to meet in Alaska. It is unclear how long the legal process might take.

Two Canadians detained by Beijing more than two years ago on suspicion of espionage will go before Chinese courts starting this week, Canada's government said today, once again ramping up diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

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"Canadian officials will continue to provide consular support to these men and their families during this unacceptable ordeal".

The two Canadian men, known to many around the world simply as "the two Michaels", were detained in December 2018, just days after police in Vancouver arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer and the daughter of the company's founder.

Later in early 2020, the Huawei executive was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges of trade secrets theft which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

Mr Kovrig worked for the International Crisis Group think tank.

Mr Spavor is a founding member of the Paektu Cultural Exchange, an organisation which facilitates worldwide business and cultural ties with North Korea.

Both the administrations of former US President Donald Trump, and now US President Joe Biden have pledged to do all they can to assist the two Canadians, with Vice President Kamala Harris telling Trudeau in a phone call in February that Washington was in "strong solidarity with Canada regarding the issue of two Canadian citizens unjustly detained by China". "We're going to work together until we get their safe return".

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