China formally arrests Canadian ex-diplomat, businessman

18 Mai, 2019, 04:09 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been detained in China since December. File

Chinese authorities have formally arrested on state secrets charges two Canadians detained previous year, the government said on Thursday, drawing condemnation from Canada in a case that is likely to further increase tension between Ottawa and Beijing.

Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang confirmed the arrests at Thursday's daily briefing, saying the arrests were approved by law and were made "recently".

According to Lu, Kovrig was arrested on charges of gathering state secrets and intelligence, and Spavor on charges of stealing secrets and illegally providing them to overseas forces.

The formal arrests of the two are widely seen as retaliation for Canada's apprehension of Huawei's CFO Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver airport on 1 December.

The US Commerce Department said on Wednesday that it was adding Huawei Technologies and 70 affiliates to its so-called "Entity List" in a move that bans the Chinese company from acquiring components and technology from US firms without prior US government approval. "The actions we have taken are entirely law-based".

The men were detained separately days after the arrest of Huawei. The two have been allowed short consular visits once a month, during which they are not allowed to discuss the cases against them with Canadian diplomats. China has also never announced where the men are being held.

Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Spavor, an entrepreneur who frequently led tours to North Korea, were both detained by Chinese officials in December previous year. At her latest court hearing on May 9, her lawyers reiterated that she was innocent and called the arrest "an unlawful abuse of process".

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Meng, 47, is the daughter of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei.

Meng has been allowed to live in her Vancouver mansion, although her mobility is limited. This move will ban US companies from selling or transferring USA technology to Huawei without US government approval.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, is accused of lying to banks about the company's dealings with Iran in violation of USA trade sanctions. The order did not specifically identify any country or company, but US officials have previously labelled Huawei a "threat" and lobbied allies not to use Huawei network equipment in next-generation 5G networks.

She has been ordered to wear an electronic anklet and hand over her passports after being released on bail in mid-December on a Can$10 million (S$10.2 million) bond. She has been living in a Vancouver home.

Another Canadian held in China, Robert Schellenberg, was re-sentenced to death in a drug case following Meng's detention.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Canadians thinking of travelling to China should consult with Global Affairs Canada.

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