Kovrig, Spavor ‘robust’ after two-year China detention: Canada | Canada
Two Canadians were arrested shortly after Canada arrested Huawei manager Meng Wanzhou on charges of espionage.
Two Canadian men who have been detained by China for more than two years are in good mental and physical shape, Ottawa’s ambassador in Beijing said Tuesday.
China arrested former diplomat and senior analyst for the Crisis Group for Northeast Asia, Michael Kovrig, and businessman Michael Spavor on December 10, 2018, on charges of violating national security.
The arrests came shortly after Canadian police arrested Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou.
Both Canadians were detained without access to lawyers or family members, and authorities even prevented consular officers from visiting them for months, citing the risk of the coronavirus. In June, China announced that it would be pursuing the two men for espionage.
“You are both very healthy physically and mentally,” Ambassador Dominic Barton told a special parliamentary committee on Canada’s relations with China.
“I’m deeply inspired by their resilience and the way they think – it’s amazing what they’re going through … they’re very, very strong and it’s remarkable,” he added.
Canada has made the return of the two men a priority and has dismissed Beijing’s insistence that their arrests are unrelated to Meng’s arrest.
Barton said he received virtual visits in October after months of pressure and also spoke to the two men individually last month. Meng is currently on bail while her case goes to court and lives in her Vancouver mansion.
In a statement to mark the two-year anniversary of Kovrig, his employer, the Crisis Group described his detention as “unjust” and as a “case of politically motivated hostage diplomacy that is deeply damaging China’s global reputation. His only offense was being a Canadian citizen who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. “
Free the two Michaels. My Christmas card to Michael Kovrig. #freeChinahostages pic.twitter.com/X7ZBYAkc2G
– Bonnie Glaser / Ge Laiyi (@BonnieGlaser) December 7, 2020
This is my Christmas card for Michael Kovrig, which I am sending to Ambassador CONG Peiwu, Chinese Embassy, 515 St. Patrick, Ottawa, K1N 5H3 #freechinahostages pic.twitter.com/xi6jJ8UKJO tonight
– Guy Saint-Jacques (@ guysaintjacque1) December 7, 2020
Reuters news agency reported last week that US prosecutors were discussing a plea deal with Meng’s lawyers that would resolve the criminal charges against her and allow her to return to China.
The Crisis Group said it was time for China to do the “right thing”.
“China has the right to seek a stronger role in world politics,” said Frank Giustra, co-chairman of the board of the Crisis Group. “There is no right to unjustly arrest people. Its arbitrary practices inevitably undermine its legitimate aspirations and create a deterrent effect on all those – members of the business community, diplomats, journalists, academics and researchers – who wish to travel to China. “
To mark Kovrig and Spavor’s two-year anniversary, a campaign was launched to raise support for the release of the men in Canada and elsewhere. The #freechinashostages initiative aims to flood Chinese embassies and consulates with cards and messages of support for the two men.