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China Formally Arrests Canadians Kovrig And Spavor on ‘Spying’ Charges

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Chinese policemen in Beijing

Chinese Police officers in Beijing, China. Photo: Beijing Patrol.

China on Thursday announced the formal arrest of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been held on suspicion of “spying” since Canada arrested a top executive at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on Dec. 1, pending a U.S. extradition request.

Kovrig, a former diplomat, faces charges of “collecting state secrets and intelligence,” while Spavor, who owns a tourism company, was arrested on charges of “stealing and illegally offering state secrets abroad,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news briefing in Beijing.

Lu said the men were formally arrested “recently.” Both are being held at an unknown location under “residential surveillance at a designated location,” although their formal arrest means they could be transferred elsewhere. Neither has been allowed access to a lawyer; only monthly visits from consular staff.

Lu said: “Chinese judicial authorities are handling the cases according to law … [Their] legitimate rights and interests are fully guaranteed.”

The change in Kovrig and Spavor’s status means that state prosecutors have approved their continued detention on the charges listed, but have yet to issue an indictment, which would set in motion the processes leading to a trial.

The Canadian foreign ministry hit out at the announcement, and called for Kovrig and Spavor’s immediate release.

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Reported by Hwang Chun-mei for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Wong Lok-to for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Copyright © 1998-2019, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.

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