Canada says 2 citizens held in China have not been tried – world news

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Canada said Thursday that it has confirmed with China that two Canadians held for two years in China in a case linked to a Huawei executive have not been put on trial, opposite to remarks by a Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor have been confined by China since December 10, 2018, just days after Canada detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who may be the daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant.

Asked approximately the Canadians at a day by day briefing on Thursday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Matters spokesperson Hua Chunying said the two had been “arrested, indicted and tried,” in what seemed to be the first public assertion that they had been brought to court.

Hua gave no details, and Canada’s Global Matters Branch issued a commentary later Thursday saying that Canadian Embassy officials in Beijing had spoken with the ministry, which confirmed that the men had not gone on trial.

Chinese officials “confirmed that the confusion used to be caused by an inaccurate characterization of the process made by the Chinese MFA spokesperson,” the commentary said.

Chinese prosecutors announced earlier this year that Kovrig had been charged on suspicion of spying for state secrets and intelligence, and Spavor on suspicion of spying for a foreign entity and illicitly providing state secrets.

Neither China nor Canada has released specifics approximately their cases.

Canada detained Meng at the request of the US, which is looking for her extradition to face fraud charges.

Hua said her case and those of the Canadians were ”different in nature,” with Meng’s being a “purely political incident.” Despite that, China has consistently linked the destiny of the two Canadians to its demands that Meng be released immediately.

Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne issued a commentary Wednesday marking their two years of captivity, saying: “These two Canadians are an absolute precedence for our government, and we will be able to continue to work tirelessly to protected their instant release and to get up for them as a government and as Canadians.”

“I am struck by the integrity and strength of character the two have shown as they endure huge hardship that would shake anyone’s faith in humanity,” Champagne said.

Meng’s arrest severely damaged relations between Canada and China, which has convicted two other Canadians to death and suspended imports of canola from Canada.

Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, is living in a luxury Vancouver home while her extradition case continues in a British Columbia court. The U.S. accuses Huawei of the usage of a Hong Kong shell company to deceive banks and do trade with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

It’s not publicly known where Kovrig and Spavor are being held or under what conditions, even if Canada’s ambassador to China testified to a House of Commons committee this week that they were “robust.”

Canadian diplomats had been denied all access to the two men from January to October as a result of coronavirus precautions cited by the Chinese side. On-site visits were banned and not even virtual visits were permitted.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has described China’s approach as coercive diplomacy, spoke final month with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden approximately the case of the two men and said he expects Biden to be a good partner in persuading Beijing to release them.

The US marked the second one year of the men’s imprisonment on Thursday by calling for their instant release.

The acting American ambassador to Canada, Katherine Brucker, said in a commentary that they’re being arbitrarily and unjustly detained.

“We echo the calls from the Canadian government, the international community, and the families of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor for these two men to be released immediately and returned home,” Brucker said.

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