Trial of Canadian detained in China ends without verdict

ANI
·2-min read
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Beijing [China], March 19 (ANI): The Chinese court did not deliver a verdict in the Friday trial of a Canadian citizen, Michael Spavor, who was detained on suspicion of espionage, Canadian media reported on Friday.

According to Sputnik citing the CTV News broadcaster, quoting charge d'affaires of the Canadian Embassy in China, the two-hour court hearing ended with no ruling. At the same time, Canadian diplomats were not allowed inside the courtroom.

"We are disappointed in the lack of access and the lack of transparency," Jim Nickel, the Canadian diplomat, told reporters, as cited by the media outlet.

The businessman was charged with espionage in China in late 2018 along with former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig. Ottawa sees the move as a retaliation against the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was detained in Vancouver on December 1, 2018, at the request of the United States on charges of violating sanctions on Iran. Beijing denies that the two cases are linked.

Both nations view the detention of their nationals by the other as political incidents. However, Chinese officials have said that Canada's deference to US foreign policy served as a catalyst for the growing diplomatic rift.

Canada's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marc Garneau, said the country's embassy in Beijing has been notified that court hearings for Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are scheduled to take place on March 19 and March 22, respectively.

"The arbitrary detention of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor is a top priority for the Government of Canada and we continue to work tirelessly to secure their immediate release. Our embassy in Beijing has been notified that court hearings for Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are scheduled to take place on March 19 and March 22, respectively," he said in a statement.

Former diplomat Kovrig and businessman Spavor have been detained in China since their arrest in December 2018.

Kovrig was accused of having used an ordinary passport and business visa to enter China to steal sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China since 2017, while Spavor was accused of being a key source of intelligence for Kovrig, the Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times reported.

An overwhelming majority of Canadians say there can be no improvement in bilateral relations with China until two of their compatriots held in detention in the country are released, an Angus Reid Institute poll has revealed.

Sino-Canadian relations soured after the arrest of Meng and two Canadian nationals in China - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor - on charges of espionage. The ties have further worsened because of Ottawa's condemnation of Beijing's national security law implemented in Hong Kong and labelling China's human rights abuses in Xinjiang province as 'genocide'. (ANI)