China hands over cases of detained Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig to prosecutors

South China Morning Post 發布於 2019年12月10日16:12 • Liu Zhen
  • Two have been held for a year on spying charges in move widely seen as retaliation for detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou
  • Canadian government complains pair have been denied access to a lawyer and contact with families, but Chinese say they are ‘in good condition’
Supporters call for the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig outside a court hearing for Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver earlier this year. Photo: Reuters

China said on Tuesday that the cases of two Canadians who have been held on spying charges for a year have been handed over to prosecutors.

The detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor has prompted accusations that it was in retaliation for the arrest in Canada of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the investigation into their cases had been completed and the cases would be "reviewed and prosecuted in accordance with the law".

She added that the Canadian embassy had been allowed several consular visits and said the pair "are in good condition … all their legitimate rights have been guaranteed".

Former diplomat Kovrig has been charged with "gathering state secrets and intelligence for abroad" while Spavor, who promoted tourism and investment in North Korea, was accused of "stealing and providing state secrets for abroad".

Such trials are usually carried out behind closed doors.

Tuesday was the first anniversary of the pair's detention and Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne issued a statement to mark the occasion, saying: "Since then, they have not had access to a lawyer and have been denied contact with their families and loved ones.

"We will continue to work tirelessly to secure their immediate release and to stand up for them as a government and as Canadians."

Meng Wanzhou remains in China as she fights extradition to the US. Photo: Reuters

In response, the Chinese embassy in Canada published a statement on its website, accusing Champagne of "making irresponsible comments" and denying that the arrests were "arbitrary".

"We must point out that what Canada and the United States did to Meng Wanzhou was arbitrarily arresting a Chinese citizen and seriously infringing her legal rights," the statement said.

"China again urges Canada to correct their wrongdoing, release Ms Meng immediately and let her return to China safely."

Meng, chief financial officer of Huawei and daughter of the company's founder, was arrested on December 1 last year when making a flight transfer in Vancouver.

She is wanted in the US on fraud charges relating to alleged breaches of US sanctions on Iran.

She was released on bail 10 days later and has since lived under house arrest in Vancouver as her legal team challenges the extradition request.

As relations between the two countries worsened following the arrest, China has also blocked Canadian farm imports and sentenced two other Canadians to death for drug offences.

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