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News - All - 4 Mar 2019

News Item 17 of 4530 

Miscellaneous: 4 Mar 2019
China accuses detained Canadians of stealing state secrets

Michael Spavor, left, and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, right, have been detained in China since December. (Associated Press/International Crisis Group/Canadian Press)

China has accused detained Canadian citizen Michael Kovrig of stealing state secrets passed on to him from another detained Canadian, Michael Spavor, in what is likely to further ramp up tension between Ottawa and Beijing.

Businessman Spavor and former diplomat Kovrig were picked up in early December, shortly after Canada arrested Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou, who faces extradition to the United States and has filed a civil claim against Canadian authorities, including Ottawa.

China has repeatedly demanded Meng be released, and reacted angrily last week when the Canadian government approved extradition proceedings against her.

In a short statement on its microblog, the ruling Communist Party's Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission said Kovrig had often entered China using an ordinary passport and business visas, "stealing and spying on sensitive Chinese information and intelligence via a contact in China."

"Spavor was Kovrig's main contact and provided him with intelligence," the commission added, without giving details.

Kovrig severely violated Chinese laws, and China will start the next judicial proceedings in due course, it said.

"China is a country with rule of law and will firmly crack down on criminal acts that severely undermine national security."

No link to Meng's arrest, China says

While Canada says China has made no specific link between the detentions of the two Canadians and Meng's arrest, experts and former diplomats say they have no doubt it is using the cases of the two men to pressure Canada.

Kovrig works for the International Crisis Group (ICG), which focuses on conflict resolution, and has denied any involvement in espionage.

Canadian diplomats have been allowed to see the two men. However, sources familiar with the case have said Kovrig has not been allowed access to lawyers or family members, unlike Meng.

Kovrig also holds Hungarian citizenship.

Canada arrested Meng on Dec. 1 as she was changing planes in Vancouver, at the request of the United States, which has filed sweeping charges against Huawei and Meng that paint the company as a national security threat.

Meng has been charged with bank and wire fraud to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran. She is free on bail and denies the charges against her.

Thomson Reuters/CBC News/Somnia/Associated Press/International Crisis Group/Canadian Press/AA
 

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