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China hints at national security trials for 2 Canadians

Last Updated Dec 10, 2019 at 7:41 am PST

FILE: Michael Spavor, director of Paektu Cultural Exchange (left) and Michael Kovrig (right) have been arrested in China. (AP/The Canadian Press)
Summary

China is hinting at upcoming trials for two Canadians detained since last year

Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor were arrested and detained on vague national security charges in China last December

The maneuver is widely believed to be an attempt to pressure Canada to release Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou

BEIJING — China is hinting at upcoming trials for two Canadian citizens held for a year on vague national security charges in what is widely believed to be an attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng Wanzhou, a top executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Tuesday that the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been transferred to prosecutors for “review and prosecution in accordance with the law.” Such trials are usually carried out behind closed doors and convictions are virtually assured.

Beijing detained Kovrig and Spavor last December, days after Meng, whose father is Huawei’s founder, was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities who want her on fraud charges.

China has also sentenced two other Canadians to death and suspended imports of Canadian canola. Relations between Canada and China are at their lowest point since Chinese troops cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Neither Kovrig nor Spavor is known to have had access to lawyers or contact with family members. Meng is living under house arrest in one of her two luxury mansions in Vancouver, where she recently penned a letter contrasting her hectic life as a Huawei executive with her current placid existence as her legal team fights a U.S. deportation request.