The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs denounces the “arbitrary” detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, detained for more than two years.
Of them Canadians jailed in China for more than two years on espionage allegations will have hearings later this week, Canada’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
“Our Embassy in Beijing has been informed that court hearings for Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are scheduled to take place on March 19 and March 22, respectively,” Marc Garneau said in a statement.
Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Spavor, a businessman, were arrested in December 2018 after Canadian authorities arrested senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou following an extradition request by states -United.
Chinese authorities said the two men were suspected of endangering national security and dismissed charges that their detention constituted retaliation for the case against Meng, who faces fraud charges in the United States.
Relations between Ottawa and Beijing have deteriorated since the arrests, leading Canadian officials to criticize China for its record on human rights and global push to end arbitrary detention around the world.
“The arbitrary detention of MM. Kovrig and Spavor is a top priority for the Government of Canada and we continue to work tirelessly to secure their immediate release, ”said Garneau.
“We believe that these detentions are arbitrary and remain deeply troubled by the lack of transparency surrounding these procedures,” he said.
Representatives of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs led by Ambassador Dominic Barton received virtual consular access on site in Kovrig on January 21.
“Canadian officials will continue to provide consular support to these men and their families during this unacceptable ordeal,” Garneau said.
Beijing says the detention of Meng, who is under house arrest in a luxury mansion she owns in Vancouver, is politically motivated and has demanded her immediate and unconditional release.
The United States has accused Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, of using a Hong Kong shell company to cheat the banks and do business with Iran in violation of US sanctions.
At an extradition hearing in the BC Supreme Court on Wednesday, Meng’s lawyers argued that police violated his rights during his arrest and demanded his release.