By | Rachel Brooks
Staff | Telegraph Local
China has indicted two Canadian citizens on spying charges. This was reported by The New York Times within the last 24 hours. The Guardian likewise followed up with more recent developments. The charges have been filed against an ex-diplomat and a businessman. The Guardian reports that the charges filed against the two Canadians have increased the diplomatic strains that have placed China on one side and has placed Canada and The United States on the other. Particularly, China and the tech company Huawei are pitted against Canada and the U.S.
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The charges are new, but the two Canadians have been detained by China for quite some time. The charges have come 18 months after the arrest of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor. The two were detained in late 2018.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed disappointment that China has moved forward with espionage charges against his two citizens. Trudeau has directly pressured China to release the two men.
Despite the apparent distress from Trudeau, Beijing has defended its decision to detain the two alleged spies. It appears to be a political tit-for-tat. Canada’s detention of “Miss Meng” , the Huawei executive accused of espionage in Canada, has been directly linked by China’s officials to the charges levied against Kovrig and Spavor. Meng Wanzhou lost a challenge in Canadian court to be extradited to the United States last month. This was also reported by The Guardian.
Trudeau expressed further disappointment with this decision.
“(It is) extremely disappointing because, for us, there obviously are no links, except in politics,” said Trudeau, as he was quoted by The Guardian.
Yet, the decision to indict the two men came after an investigation which the Ministry states concluded in December.
Worse still for Canada, it is unclear what will become of Kovrig and Spavor. When Chinese officials were directly approached regarding a long prison sentence, or the death penalty, they declined to answer. The only answer that was given was that it was a “hypothetical question” regarding the two men’s fates. This is further citing The Guardian.
Within the last hour, The BBC reports that Canada has renewed calls to pressure China into releasing the two men. They were arrested only days after Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver. It has not been clearly stated or intimated if prisoner exchange is a possibility.
The BBC spoke with Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. Freeland expressed that she is “heartbroken and really angry,” regarding China’s ruling.
“(The men are) very brave Canadians who are behaving with incredible decency and incredible courage” and are in very difficult circumstances “through no fault of their own,” said Freeland, as she was quoted by The BBC.
The BBC also reports that China’s court system, being controlled entirely by the Communist Party, has a nearly 100% conviction rate for those who face charges. The Globe and Mail has reported that Kovrig and Spavor likely face life in prison now. Kovrig has been charged with spying on national secrets and on intelligence for entities outside of China. Spavor was charged with spying on national secrets and then illegally providing those secrets to entities outside of China.