Next Move in China-Canada Feud: Calling 2 Men Spies

China alleges Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor tried to steal state secrets
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 4, 2019 1:32 PM CST
China Links Detained Canadians, Calls Them Spies
ILE - In this file image made from a March 28, 2018, video, Michael Kovrig, an adviser with the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based non-governmental organization, speaks during an interview in Hong Kong.   (AP Photo, File)

China accused two detained Canadians on Monday of acting together to steal state secrets, just days after Canada on Friday announced it will proceed with a US extradition request for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. China arrested the two Canadians on Dec. 10 in what was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei's founder and was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1 at the request of US authorities. The US is seeking her extradition to face charges she misled banks about the company's business with Iran; she's due in court on Wednesday to set a date for the extradition proceedings to start. David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said the new allegations against Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are a response to that action, reports the AP.

China's official Xinhua News Agency cited unidentified Chinese authorities as saying Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, violated Chinese laws by acting as a spy and stealing state secrets and intelligence with the help of Canadian businessman Spavor. It was the first time the two men's cases have been linked. It said Kovrig often entered China using an ordinary passport and business visa, and acquired information from Spavor, his "main contact." No other details were given. Kovrig is a former diplomat who was working as an expert on Asia for the International Crisis Group think tank. Spavor is an entrepreneur known for contacts with high-ranking North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong Un. Kovrig and Spavor haven't had access to a lawyer or to their families since being arrested. (Meng is suing the Canadian government.)

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