NEW YORK CITY (NEWS 1130) – Frustrated co-workers of Michael Kovrig say bringing him home remains their focus now that he’s been locked up in China for one full year.
The North East Asia adviser for the New York-based International Crisis Croup is one of two Canadian men arrested Dec. 10, 2018 – only a few days after the December-first detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver International Airport.
It’s believed both him and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested as retribution because Meng is facing extradition to the United States on charges of violating trade sanctions with Iran.
Praveen Madhiraju, the general counsel at International Crisis Group, insists Kovrig has done nothing wrong.
“There’s not a day that goes by that we’re not working on Michael’s case. It’s affected everybody very personally because, really, he was doing nothing different than the types of things our staff have been doing in some very tricky spots around the world and it very much could have been any one of use who are in Michael’s position.”
He adds they won’t let the world forget what’s happened to Kovrig.
“And we’ve been working very closely with the family and the Canadian government to affectuate his release. He’s just a casualty of a much larger geo-political game that has nothing to do with him and he’s being treated as a pawn in these games. He needs to be released.”
Madhiraju also tells NEWS 1130 Chinese authorities are only hurting themselves because Kovrig’s work in Beijing would have helped improve international relations.
“He was researching China’s role in the world and it’s position on various conflicts. What they’ve done is send a chilling effect. They are a growing power. They want to and they need to be engaged with these different communities. His continued detention is just sending the wrong message. This is not in China’s interest.”
He says Kovrig hasn’t had any contact with his family since his arrest and he’s been denied access to lawyers.
His only contact has been monthly visits with people from Canada’s consulate in Beijing.
Justice Minister David Lametti admits he’s worried they haven’t had any access to legal counsel.