China charges two detained Canadians for spying and stealing state secrets

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, in response to the charges, has said he is 'very concerned with this position that China has taken'.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

The Chinese government released a statement on Monday alleging that two detained Canadian citizens spied on, and stole state secrets and intelligence from China.

Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, allegedly travelled to China frequently to spy and steal state secrets through his contacts, the statement said. He allegedly commenced the espionage activities from 2017 onward.

The second Canadian detainee, Michael Spavor, allegedly was Kovrig's "main intelligence contact" in supplying state secrets and intelligence to him.

The two Canadians have both been charged for spying and stealing state secrets and intelligence from China, as well as bringing that sensitive information abroad.

They will be given full legal rights in accordance with Chinese law, which includes being able to arrange consular visits, the statement said. A hearing date has not yet been set. 

The statement stressed China is a country run by the rule of law, and the country will resolutely crack down on criminal activities that jeopardise national security.

"We are obviously very concerned with this position that China has taken," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a funding announcement in Charlottetown.

"The safety and security of Canadians is always of first order for this government. That's why we've been engaging and standing up for the two Canadians who have been arbitrarily detained by China from the very beginning."

Kovrig and Spavor were both arrested and detained on December 10, 2018, for suspicion of engaging in activities that endangered China's national security, and are currently held in Beijing and Dandong, respectively.

The detainment of the two Canadians occurred 10 days after the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is currently on bail in Vancouver and due in court this Wednesday to set a date for extradition proceedings commenced by the United States. The extradition request is for charges relating to allegations that Huawei had misrepresented its ownership and control of Iranian affiliate Skycom, which breached UN, US, and EU sanctions.

An arraignment date has yet to be set for these charges.

Huawei pleaded not guilty last Thursday for a separate set of charges that it allegedly stole trade secrets from T-Mobile.

At the same time, the Huawei CFO has sued the Canadian government, police force, and border agency, claiming she was detained, searched, and interrogated before she was told that she was under arrest.

According to the lawsuit, Meng was interrogated "under the guise of a routine customs" search, and was thereby compelled to "provide evidence and information" instead of being arrested.

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